Will the new strategy of the Marines mean the closure of Twentynine Palms? Or the closure of Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune, or will these posts be part of the new Marine Corps doctrine as the “Pivot Towards The Pacific“ continues?

No longer will Marines have tanks, heavy artillery, attack helicopters, or the tilt-rotor Osprey. They have changed their strategy on engaging the Chinese and Russian military. It’s true that Marine leadership is planning to offload Abrams battle tanks to the Army in hopes of becoming a leaner force more capable of island hopping in the Pacific Theatre and the Baltic States.

Whom do military planners and senior combatant commanders plan to engage? The Chinese in the pacific. Nothing new as former President Obama had his “Pivot to the Pacific” doctrine in discussions before his final term ended.

So, no need to make the leap that this is about a retaliatory response because of the Chinese failing to share information with the United States about its coronavirus.

Will Strategy of Marines Close 29 Palms? [Opinion]Marines are all about being a rapid deployment force. Leadership sees the need to island and atoll hop in any future Pacific conflict with China.

Tanks like the Abrams main battle tank weigh in excess of  61 tons. It is the greatest battle tank ever built. But not much of an island hopper. With the emergence of drones and other high-energy weapons, tanks are also more vulnerable than ever.

Marines are changing battle plans, too. These future engagements will be fought on small spaces. Some as minuscule as just 950 acres in the Pacific. So tanks aren’t the only thing the Marines will toss overboard. The  towed artillery pieces, known as 155 millimeter types, are also being eliminated. Aircraft to support the ground Marines are also being cut back.

Marine aviators will lose a combined four Ospreys and helicopter squadrons. Three infantry battalions will be shed along with the 2400 Marines in those battalions. F-35 fighters will also be cutback.

All four of the Marines tank battalions are to be eliminated. That’s 200 tanks plus support equipment and all those “tankers” and “maintainers “ are no longer needed.

Look for all those cuts to add up to new capabilities to fit the new threat. Rockets, of the long range artillery variety, will be what is needed to strike The Peoples Liberation Army. This means a 300% boost for the Marines in this weapons category.

Marines are buying new missiles for use against maritime surface forces as well. These new missiles have an unclassified range of 900 miles. These two types of missiles could easily strike the Subi Reef occupied by Chinese military forces.

It isn’t all about China either. The Baltic Sea is also a concern. The Russian threat must also be addressed. This new Marine strategy is realistic, necessary, and also reflects a leaner budget. Former defense officials and military leaders say “ it’s a good call” by the Marines.

What will these mean for domestic Marine bases and training centers? One word “change “. What about the Marines caught up in downsizing ? Too early to tell but many may end up being honorably discharged (laid off) in a Reduction In Force or they may follow those tanks to the Army.

Congress doesn’t have the stomach for a base realignment and closure but it is possible the Marines may not need as many domestic posts and bases. Time will tell if the Department of the Navy and the Marines recommend to the White House, Senate, and Congress to close a base or Camp.

We can’t see that happening during this presidential election cycle.  Bases, camps, and posts are major economic engines in a community and locals won’t want to see a base closed.  The direct and indirect job loses will devastate any community hit by a closure. Neither will those members of Congress who have one in their districts.  Stay tuned for more …

Image Sources

  • Military: Pixaby
  • U.S. Marines train for battle at 29 Palms: YouTube