MAMOSA Report — The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is set to increase the size of its Marine Corps from about 20,000 to 100,000, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on March 13.
According to unnamed PLA insiders and experts interviewed by SCMP, elements of the expanded Marine Corps would be stationed abroad, including Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan province of Balochistan, The Diplomat reports.
The PLA Marine Corps (PLAMC), part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has gradually been expanding its size over the last couple of years as its mission is slowly expanding from conducting operations in China’s coastal areas to to more global roles.
“The PLA marines will be increased to 100,000, consisting of six brigades in the coming future to fulfill new missions of our country,” a source told SCMP.
China is also building up amphibious transport capacity. According to an estimate by the RAND Corporation, the PLA may be able to field 89 amphibious landing ships in 2017. Some of these ships can carry up to 600 troops and 15-20 armored vehicles, and the the larger ones could be capable of accommodating up to 900-1,100 marines and 30-40 armored vehicles (along with eight helicopters).
RAND estimates that the PLAN’s one-way total transport capacity will be 2.7 divisions or around 40,000 men by the end of 2017.
China launched an ambitious global economic outreach program with new road and maritime silk routes called One Belt One Road initiative. The new maritime silk route envisages enhanced trade and shipping activities in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea and the islands.