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Pakistan Marines (PM)

Pakistan Marines (PM)The Pakistan Marines are a component of the Pakistan Navy. They have a role, a task, and a mission, in the overall framework of the PN and Pakistan. The Pakistan Marines (PM), a reinforced regiment, with an estimated strength of 1,500 personnel, guard coastal installations against air attack, and are responsible for security along the Indus delta creeks. A separate Naval Special Service Group (SSGN) commando group is trained for special operations. This force has been expanding to a brigade-sized formation to cope with new responsibilities for the air defense of Jinnah Naval Base and the civilian port at Gwandar. It was expected to reach its new operational strength by 2009 - but according to Janes as of 2011 there was no confirmation of this. In the meantime four Griffon hovercraft were procured from the UK along with several inflatable assault craft.

The force motto is an Ayat of Surah AL-IMRAN from the Holy Quran which has following meaning: “And hold fast Allah’s path and do not be divided”. The Marines seek guidance from this Ayat which insinuates towards their usual functioning. The setup being manpower intensive outfit essentially requires cohesion and synergy among all its components for successful accomplishment of assigned tasks.

The first ever Marine setup consisting of Marine Battalion and Amphibious Wing was established on 01 June 1971 to support riverine operation in East Pakistan, a land of rivers. Almost the whole of East Bengal is a dead level plain, excepting the Chittagong Hill Tracts. A network of streams and other water-bodies and a limited number of bridges on them determined the nature of warfare in such areas to be an amphibious one. It necessitated a specialized warfare adapted to a landscape dominated by an abundance of water-surfaces and watercourses. It did not allow of highly mechanized warfare in the sense in which mechanization is understood with reference to flat lands with a developed road and rail communication system.

The aim of the Indian Army in December 1971 was to occupy only two areas of East Pakistan - Chittagong and Khulna - so that an interim Bangladeshi government could be established. The capture of the whole of East Pakistan was not even conceived. A major problem was the geography and terrain of East Pakistan. Three major rivers - the Brahmaputra, the Ganga and the Meghna - divided East Pakistan into four natural regions. Each of the rivers were major ones - all of them wider than any European river. Each sub-region was further divided into several pockets cut by smaller rivers and their tributaries. The idea that an attacking army could bridge these, fight the enemy and then take territory, all within a couple of weeks, was ludicrous.

The Pakistan Navy in the east was capable of some riverine operations, but with only four patrol craft and some two dozen improvised or confiscated river vessels, in an effort to support the army and to control the depredations of Mukti Bahini frogmen. But it could hardly challenge the Indian Navy, especially in the absence of air cover. The Pakistanis for the most part, were completely taken by surprise. By the seventh day of the war, the Pakistani Army High Command, headquartered in Rawalpindi, was in a complete panic. As sequel to re-organization after 1971 war, the marine Force was disbanded in 1974.

In 1990 Marine Battalion of Pakistan Navy was formed and PNS QASIM, re-commissioned at Manora, was established as the HQ for marines. Pakistan was in the process of equipping this force with the better platforms and better weapons that they need. In this context, Marine Setup comprising of Marine Battalion, Amphibious Wing and Marine Training Centre was reactivated on 14 April 1990 to provide security cover to Naval VAs/VPs, manning of AA assets, aid to civil power, ceremonial duties and training of personnel. The acting Commander M Obaidullah PN (P.No 1558) was designated as the first Commanding Officer. It was decided to establish the Marine Battalion at QASIM Fort which was at that time under the operational control of PNS HIMALAYA. As a first step, PNS QASIM was commissioned as training Cum Depot Unit on 25 Nov 1990. The Commissioning Crew comprised of 08 officer, 67 CPOs/Sailors from general Service and 43 Marines UTs. Since its establishment Marines had performed their assigned task with utmost dedication and alacrity.

During the last decade, threat on the SE eastern borders increased manifolds, warranting an immediate response. Estimating the type and quantum of threat, Pak Navy proposed deployment of a sizeable force in the creeks. The then DCNS(O), Rear Admiral Shahid Karimullah SJ SI(M) vigorously pursued the case of an additional battalion and its phase wise development plan. Since its inception, Creeks Battalion is deployed in its designated Area of Responsibility.

Pakistan is working to enhance and improve the mobility and firepower of the marines suitably, to match their role and tasks in the seaward defense of the South Eastern Coast. Pak Marines have inducted Hovercraft and Military Assault Boats (MABs). To increase the mobility of the marines, a contract to procure four hovercraft was signed with M/s Griffon Hovercraft of Britain and an equal number of military assault boats were obtained under a contract with M/s Marsun of Thailand. Pakistan had smaller, faster boats that are required for the marines operations.

The Pakistan Navy inducted a hovercraft and military assault boat into its marine force on 04 December 2004. The ceremony was held on PNS Himalaya at Manora Island with Admiral Shahid Karimullah, chief of naval staff, as the chief guest. Speaking on the occasion, he said that since their inception the Pakistan Marines had trained very hard and had the potential to grow further. He said the marines had proved their mettle by participating in internal security operations as well as by safeguarding external security imperatives. The UK built Hovercraft Griffon 2000 TD(M) is capable of carrying up to 22 troops at a maximum speed of 35 knots over variety of surfaces. This unique capability would afford Marines the flexibility to operate in areas otherwise inaccessible.

The Military Assault Boat (MAB) built by M/s MARSUN – Thailand is capable of carrying up to 14 troops at maximum speed of 30 Knots. The craft can be employed on variety of tasks encompassing combat patrolling, logistic support missions, SAR and rapid deployment of troops. Its induction would substantially enhance Marine’s mobility.

As of October 2011 Wikipedia described the Pakistan Marines as " ... an elite special operations force similar to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the United Kingdom's Royal Marines.... responsible for providing force projection from the sea, using the mobility of the Pakistani Navy to rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces.... During the training of the Pakistani Marines at Marines training school, the Marines occasionally conduct their exercises with the U.S. Marine Corps..." While some Pakistani fanboy might hope that the Pakistan Marines might eventually grow to resemble such a description, at present they do not. The essential attribute of the US Marine Corps is a capacity to conduct amphibious operations in a forcible entry environment. The closest the Pakistani Marines can come to such a capability is four small hovercraft, each capable of carrying 22 troops, presently used for constabulary patrols in the Rann of Kutch. As of October 2011 Wikipedia reported 12 Griffon 2000TD hovercraft, while all other sources report only 4, as well as an unspecified number of the vastly larger Zubr class LCAC, while all other sources report no such transfer. Wikipedia also reported unspecified numbers of Jackal (MWMIK), an armored vehicle used by elite British forces such as the Royal Marines and Paras, and PT-76, an amphibious light tank. Neither system is reported by any other sources.

In FY2006, the United States DOD used Section 1206 authority to carry out nine projects to improve counterterrorism capabilities in 11 countries. Section 1206 provided funds to enhance Pakistan’stability to control its borders and to train and equip Pakistani Marines. In FY2007, new programs included a 15-country African Maritime Security program, as well as maritime programs in Djibouti, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Pakistan.

The American Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment participated in the massive assisted departure of American citizens from Lebanon in July 2006. Not only did 24the Marine Expeditionary Unit [MEU] BLT 1/8 help evacuees onto Marine helicopters and air-cushioned landing craft, they reinforced the US embassy near Beirut, passed out food and water, and ensured those in their care felt safe and secure. After four days of training in the East African nation of Djibouti in late August 2006, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit made its way across the Arabian Sea to Pakistan, where it spent 10 days in September 2006 supporting a bilateral exercise with Pakistani naval forces. Though the US Navy had been training with its Pakistani counterparts for three years, this was the first exercise involving both U.S. and Pakistani Marines.

It fell to 1/8 to share their war-fighting knowledge with the Pakistani Marines. Bravo Company and its Assault Amphibian Vehicle platoon took up the challenge of working in new terrain and overcoming the inevitable language barriers that threatened to weaken the effectiveness of the training. Once again the countless raid packages conducted and analyzed during the work-ups paid off, as the Pakistani Marines came away better prepared to conduct raids at night, during the day, and in various assault vehicles. As the MEU trained in Pakistan, it sent its AV-8B Harriers north into Afghanistan to support NATO forces battling a resurgent Taliban near Kandahar.

US Marines attached with 1st FAST 4th Group, stationed on board US Naval Support Activity Bahrain, taught Pakistani marines how to properly march in formation, during a riot control training evolution 21 July 2009. The exercise was part of a two-week non-lethal training exercise conducted by US Marines to train the Pakistani Marines.

Coalition forces along with Marines and Sailors from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) stormed Egyptian beaches near Alexandria during a major amphibious assault demonstration 12 October 2009 as part of Exercise Bright Star. The assault combined the forces of the Egyptian Army and Navy, Pakistani Marines, Kuwaiti Marines, and US Navy and Marine Corps forces from the MEU and ARG.

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