People's Liberation Navy - Marine Corps - Organizational Structure
According to the "Modern Military" magazine published in October 1992, the new mission of the Chinese Marine Corps is: "Defending the oilfield facilities at sea and reclaiming the Chinese territory occupied by foreign countries." According to general understanding, the future South China Sea will be the Marine Corps. The main mission area, and therefore the South China Sea Fleet, has the majority of the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps is headquartered in Beijing and reports directly to the commander of the PLAN for administrative issues, though it has an operational chain of command to the South Sea Fleet commander. It is possible that during wartime, the Marine Corps would report to the General Staff Department. The commander of the Marine Corps is likely to be a senior captain and does not have an official position on the SSF staff. It is principally comprised of some 10-12,000 troops organized into two brigades, both located in the South Sea Fleet.
Each land brigade has more than 5,300 people. As of 2012, the PLAN had two Marine Corps brigades, which were designated the 1st and 164th. Both brigades are subordinate to the South Sea Fleet Headquarters and are located in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province. Each brigade has three infantry regiments, one artillery regiment, and one amphibious armor regiment. The Marine Corps also consists of engineering, reconnaissance, chemical defense, and communications units, which are battalion- or company-level organizations.
The 1st brigade of the Chinese Marine Corps is under the South China Sea Fleet. It has 2 tank battalions (type 63 amphibious light tanks), 3 machine-step battalions (77II amphibious armoured personnel carriers), 1 Marine Corps battalion, 1 special army battalion. 1 artillery battalion (type 89 122mm self-propelled howitzer), 1 missile battalion (Red Arrow-73, Red Arrow-8 anti-tank missile and Hung Hom-5 portable missile), 1 engineering camp/chemical defense battalion, 1 communication Camp, 1 reconnaissance company and 1 frog row. The brigade also has a straight-8 helicopter squadron and a maritime transport squadron.
In 1998, the 164th Step Brigade of the 41st Army was reorganized into the 2nd Brigade of the Land War. Unlike the 1st brigade of the Marine Corps, the 2nd Brigade has no special operations equipment, equipped with 63A amphibious light tanks and 63C amphibious armoured personnel carriers. The brigade also has a frogman unit.
In 2000, the People's Liberation Army reorganized the 1st Division of the 1st Army of the Nanjing Military Region and the 124th Infantry Division of the 42nd Army of the Guangzhou Army into amphibious machine divisions, equipped with specific amphibious equipment and specialized training. The amphibious machine division maintains the traditional 3-1-1 system of the People's Liberation Army. It mainly has three amphibious aircraft regiments, an amphibious armor regiment and an artillery regiment, an engineering battalion, an air defense regiment and a reconnaissance battalion. The 3-1-1 establishment allows each group to act as an independent combat team in a tactical environment.
In addition to the above two amphibious machine steps, other units are also equipped with certain amphibious equipment to concentrate on the practice of crossing the sea. These units are the 31st Group Army 91st Mobility Division and Armored Brigade, the 12th Group Army 36th Step Brigade, the 1st Group Army 10th Armored Division, the 41st Group Army's 123rd Moto Division, the 54th Group Army's 127th Light Maneuver Machine stepper. These units may serve as the second echelon of the sea.
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