The Marine Corps of the People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted its first live- fire drills in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region over the weekend, the Navy said in a statement.
During the exercises that started on Friday at a training base in a desert, a Marine Corps battalion sent marines, artillery units and armored vehicles to launch simulated offensives against a heavily armed infantry company from the Xinjiang Military Command. Taking advantage of its better mobility and stronger firepower, the Marine Corps battalion overpowered the infantry company and occupied the designated areas, the Navy said.
It added this is the farthest and longest training operation the Marine Corps has ever conducted.
Admiral Wu Shengli, com- mander of the PLA Navy who inspected the event, said that marines must be trained in all geographic areas.
Senior Captain Chen Weidong, commander of a Marine Corps brigade that took part in the drills, said the operations honed and tested combat capabilities.
“They also improved our abilities in terms of combined force command, unit coordination as well as battlefield support and logistics,” he said.
In addition to the Marine Corps, a special warfare regiment from the PLA Navy staged a counterterrorism exercise at the desert base during the same period. Soldiers practiced reconnaissance, encirclement, detention, hostage extrication and rapid evacuation, according to the statement.
Hundreds of marines and soldiers from the special warfare regiment departed from their bases in South China in early January. They traveled nearly 6,000 km and arrived in Xinjiang before the Cold Training 2016 Kuerle drills unfolded in mid- January. Before the live- fire exercises, they performed training for night operations, joint strikes and unit coordination.
The recent drills are the third winter training operations of the PLA Navy’s Marine Corps.
The force performed its first winter exercises at the Zhurihe training base in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in 2014, and then in early 2015 a training session was opened at the Taonan training base in Northeast China’s Jilin province.
Rear Admiral Li Xiaoyan, deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy’s South Sea Fleet, who oversaw the winter drills, said that this year’s event took place in a more complicated environment and under worse weather conditions.
The lowest temperatures in Kuerle over the past two weeks ranged from – 15C to – 20C, according to the local meteorological authority.
“The realistic scenarios have enabled us to improve the marines’ long- range operational capabilities and their adaptability to an extremely cold environment,” he said.