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New US Marine Regiment Impractical in Reality to 'Strike China' - Experts

© AP Photo / Ng Han GuanA Chinese woman adjusts the Chinese national flag near U.S. national flags before a Strategic Dialogue expanded meeting that's part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 10, 2014
A Chinese woman adjusts the Chinese national flag near U.S. national flags before a Strategic Dialogue expanded meeting that's part of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, July 10, 2014 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.04.2024
Military experts said on Sunday that the newly formed US 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, claiming to target China, will be impractical because the US Marine Corps is equipped with light weapons that are not conducive to coastal operations lacking the capabilities to confront countries like China that have long-range and deep-strike capabilities.
"Preparing for a China war, the Marines are retooling how they'll fight," the Washington Post revealed on Friday the preparations of the newly formed regiment with the goal of "striking China."
According to the Washington Post, instead of launching traditional amphibious assaults, these nimbler groups are intended as an enabler for a larger joint force. Their role is to gather intelligence and target data and share it quickly, as well as occasionally sink ships with medium-range missiles, to help the Pacific Fleet and Air Force repel aggression against the US and allies and partners like Japan and the Philippines.
The aspiration is for the new formation to be first on the ground in a conflict, where it can gather information to send coordinates to an Air Force B-1 bomber so it can fire a missile at a Chinese frigate hundreds of miles away or send target data to a Philippine counterpart that can aim a cruise missile at a destroyer in the contested South China Sea, according to the report.
However, experts believe that the reality of the mission is daunting.
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Though the Marines are no longer weighed down by tanks, the new unit's Littoral Combat Team, an infantry battalion, will be operating advanced weapons that can fire missiles at enemy ships up to 100 nautical miles away to help deny an enemy access to key maritime chokepoints, such as the Taiwan Straits and Luzon straits, the report said.
But a single naval strike missile weighs 2,200 pounds, and resupplying these weapons in austere islands without runways requires watercraft, which move slowly, or helicopters, which can carry only a limited quantity at a time, the Post quoted experts as saying.

Chinese military experts believe that it is impractical for the newly formed regiment to target China in reality. The US Marine Corps primarily focuses on amphibious operations, but now there is a need for the corps to undergo a tactical transformation toward littoral operations, emphasizing land-sea integration. This in itself will bring about significant changes to the Marine Corps' functions, which presents a considerable challenge, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Additionally, the Marine Corps' weaponry and equipment are lightweight, designed for amphibious operations. If transitioning from land to sea, these lightweight assets may face challenges, the expert said.
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However, conducting attacks on maritime targets primarily from land-based positions also necessitates considering their own defensive capabilities. Apart from requiring heavy firepower, they need robust anti-aircraft and missile defense capabilities. Therefore, it is essential to assess whether the Marine Corps possesses sufficient capabilities in this regard, indicating that significant changes are needed in military equipment and personnel training.

Analysts stressed that it is crucial to consider which countries this tactic is intended to counter. While it may be effective against smaller nations with limited military power, it may not be feasible against countries like China, which possess long-range and deep-strike capabilities. "If the Marine Corps shifts to a defensive posture, maritime and aerial support will become vulnerable targets," the above-quoted expert said.

Another critical issue is the ongoing competition between the US Army and the Marine Corps for roles, budgets and functions. If the Marine Corps insists on transformation, these disputes with the US Army will intensify, making the regiment's implementation more challenging, the expert warned.
This article was originally published by Global Times.
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