In the largest exercise of its kind, more than 10,000 troops traveled more than 2,000 kilometers to arrive on Monday at two army training bases in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province and East China’s Shandong Province and begin battle training, China Central Television show Military Report reported.
The largest ever trans-regional training of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Marine Corps combined diverse modes of transport including air, water, railway and motor, the report said.
The process of multi-dimensional delivery of troops and long-distance arrival was accompanied by battle exercises.
The marine officers and soldiers will next carry out training in subtropical mountainous jungle areas in more than 30 specialties including combat, attack and defense, hiding and searching.
These massive military maneuvers proved the marine corps is striving to improve combat capability, according to a military expert who asked to remain anonymous.
Marines are frontline troops that seize beachheads in war time, and work as a rapid reaction force in peacetime ready to deal with emergencies, the anonymous expert said.
In 2016, the Marine Corps of the People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted its first live-fire drills in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Unlike previous marine corps training that involved a few thousand personnel and hundreds of vehicles, this training involved over 10,000 that amounted to a significant upgrade in the military structure and organization of the troops.
China plans to expand its marine corps from 20,000 to 100,000 to better protect the country’s rising overseas commitments, the South China Morning Post reported in March last year.
Some marines will be assigned overseas including Djibouti and Gwadar Port of Pakistan, the Hong Kong-based newspaper reported.
The information bureau of China’s Ministry of National Defense said afterwards that the expansion of the PLA Navy’s Marine Corps relates to the reform of the Chinese military, which is being steadily implemented.
The corps is also acting as guarding troops in Djibouti, according to the CCTV report.
“Performing tasks outside the country can greatly enhance the marines’ combat capability such as emergency and rapid response skills,” the expert said.
Performing guarding tasks overseas demands marines with higher capabilities, the expert noted, as vigilance and combat-readiness are closer to real combats.