The U.S. Marines Retool, With China in Mind

The U.S. Marines Retool, With China in Mind
A U.S. Marines’ gunner mans a turret in an amphibious assault vehicle during a U.S.-Thai joint military exercise on Hat Yao beach, Thailand, Feb. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

When Gen. David H. Berger took over as commandant of the United State Marine Corps last summer, he proposed a radical restructuring of the 244-year-old force. His plan, details of which were announced last week, calls for pivoting away from fighting protracted conflicts in the Middle East in order to bring the Marines in line with the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy, which focuses on great power competition with Russia and China. In this case, the emphasis is on China. The Marines are reinventing themselves as a naval expeditionary force focused on countering Beijing’s rising military prowess in the Asia-Pacific region. Out with the tanks and counterinsurgency doctrine; in with the littoral combat ships and amphibious warfare.

The plan will be implemented over the next 10 years, and its single-minded focus shows just how much of a threat the Pentagon considers China to be. On today’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman discusses the Marine Corps’ new force structure and its implications with Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. The views expressed during this interview are his own and not those of the U.S. government.

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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