The U.S. Marine Corps is remaking itself to better fight China in a potential conflict, and it’s making bold choices to make it happen. The Marines will eliminate all of their tank units (a capability the service has had for nearly a century), most of its tube artillery, and a substantial amount of aviation units. In return the service will bulk up with long-range rocket artillery and anti-ship missiles, weapons the service thinks will be more useful in island-hopping campaigns in the South Pacific.
The Marine Corps, according to USNI News, says it is not “optimized to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.” The service also identifies China as the “pacing threat” to the U.S. and its allies in the coming years. Most experts believe that in the event of conflict between the two countries, the South China Sea will be a major theater of war.
The sea is the location of several island archipelagos, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and a number of islets, atolls, shoals, and other above-water terrain features. In recent years China has claimed up to ninety percent of the South China Sea and established military bases at several key locations.