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US Marines Corps overhaul will lead to failure in fight over Taiwan: retired officers

Nan Yang

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US Marines Corps overhaul will lead to failure in fight over Taiwan: retired officers

  • Force Design 2030 aims to turn the storied Marine Corps into a faster and lighter combat force with reduced heavy armour
  • Chinese analyst says US marines are under pressure after seeing the PLA’s recent military overhaul with China’s marines becoming an agile force

Minnie Chan
Published: 10:30pm, 8 Aug, 2022

Force Design 2030 is a plan by the US military to modernise its marine corps, including cutting nearly 7 per cent of its182,000 troop numbers by 2030 and the number of infantry battalions from 24 to 21.Photo: US Marine Corps

US plans to turn its Marine Corps into a faster and lighter combat force will lead to failure in a conflict with the PLA over Taiwan, retired American officers have warned.

In two articles published last week as the People’s Liberation Army started several days of war games around the island, the retired officers criticised the plans, particularly those to shed heavy-armour units which they believe would reduce casualties in combat.

In Marine Corps Times, Franz Gayl, a retired marine major, said the marines’ role in defending Taiwan was “destined to fail” because the corps would lose the “time-tested potency of its signature self-sufficient combined arms Marine Air-Ground Task Force”, the structure used on all marine missions.

Gayl said this was significant because analysis proved “the Marine Corps is a key contributor to victory in the US Indo-Pacific Command’s Taiwan contingency”.

“Taiwan always will mean more to China than the US. We will lose a fight for Taiwan due to the US’ unwillingness to endure the losses when the cause was never existential to our nation’s survival,” he said.

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Force Design 2030 is a decade-long plan introduced by Marine Commandant General David Berger in 2020 to cut nearly 7 per cent of its 182,000 troops by 2030.

In terms of heavy armour, the number of infantry battalions will be cut from 24 to 21. Artillery cannon batteries will shrink from 21 to five and amphibious vehicle companies from six to four. There will also be fewer MV-22 Osprey heavy transport aircraft.

“We are modernising the Marine Corps using the [Armed Forces of] the People’s Republic of China as a benchmark,” Berger wrote in his Force Design 2030 report, which was updated in May.

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But the plan has come under heavy attack from retired officers who served in the Vietnam war and the two Gulf wars, raising debate over the evolution of the role of the marines and the philosophy of the special naval force.

In a separate article published on the US Defence News website on Thursday, three retired marine colonels – Gary Wilson, William Woods and Michael Wyly – called for the plan to be reconsidered, saying it was “a flawed operational concept” causing “serious concerns”.

“The corps is an offensive organisation and has performed its unique mission of power projection from the sea through its long and glorious history, from small raiding forays during the Revolutionary war to the large amphibious landings of World War II and on the Korean peninsula,” the authors wrote.

“Force Design 2030 essentially reorients the Marine Corps to being a defensive organisation designed to occupy static positions while waiting for the enemy to come within range.”

The articles were published as the PLA started live-fire drills targeting six “designed zones” around Taiwan island with long-range rockets, ballistic missiles and ship-to-ship and air-to-ship cruise missiles.

One of the weapons on display was the PCL-191 long-range multiple launch rocket system, the PLA’s answer to the US’ High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HMARS). The HMARS is a light multiple rocket launcher with precision firing and Berger has suggested that the Marines expand numbers of the weapon by up to 300 per cent to replace the heavy armour force.

Zhou Chenming, a researcher from the Yuan Wang military science and technology think tank in Beijing, said US marines had felt great pressure after witnessing the PLA’s military overhaul in the past few years, with China’s marines becoming an agile amphibious force armed with limber and light weapons.

“The US marines used to be the key counterterrorism force focused on individual combat and raid training under the support of heavy weapons, but those old tactics are outdated if they are going to a full-scale fight with the PLA for a Taiwan contingency,” Zhou said.

“They found those tactics require tremendous ammunition, and it’s costly to ship heavy weapons and fuel from their home to the region, which is on the PLA’s doorstep.”

Shanghai-based naval expert Ni Lexiong said experienced marine officers such as Gayl, Wilson, Woods and Wyly would be concerned about their marines’ possible involvement in a Taiwan contingency, where the complex terrain might need different ranges and types of artillery to improve their operational flexibility, but Berger would have a different perspective.

“Berger may aim at coming up with a long-term strategy to support the marines’ sustainable expeditionary advanced base operations,” Ni said.

“He [may] need to consider how to respond to the PLA counterpart’s island seizure strategy, as well as immediately establish a comprehensive logistic support chain.”

Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, said it was not surprising that the plan had prompted debate.

“It’s understandable for military revolutions to trigger criticism, especially as Force Design 2030 is definitely a drastic reform to reshape the entire marines system, with the powerful M1A2 tanks being taken out,” Lu said.

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In his article, Gayl also pointed to wider US military vulnerabilities in relation to China.

He said the PLA could crack the US military’s communications and challenge the marines’ expeditionary advanced base operations in part due to support from Beijing’s military-civilian fusion space surveillance platforms and quantum computing power.

“Every militarily useful piece of terrain in and along the first island chain surely has been mapped, and some possibly covertly occupied, in anticipation of our arrival,” he wrote. “Cooperation of our allies is not guaranteed.”

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley told Congress last year Beijing might use force to take Taiwan back by 2027. His estimation has pushed the US marines to ramp up unprecedented reforms.
 
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HassanCheema

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Marines time tested against what? Rag tag talibans and unarmed Iraqi people?
It might time to listen to the music for USA militia.
 

Hack-Hook

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So when will the Taliban send military 'advisors' to other countries?
they already did, in Chechen war they sent advisors there , in Syria they did so but the advisers were on unofficial unsanctioned missions in case of syria
 

gambit

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they already did, in Chechen war they sent advisors there , in Syria they did so but the advisers were on unofficial unsanctioned missions in case of syria
So when will those countries change their militaries to the Taliban model?
 

Hack-Hook

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So when will those countries change their militaries to the Taliban model?
well the one who recieved the training changed it to the taliban fighting style and well they failed , unlike taliban in afghanistan . seems the advisors were not good teacher
 

Oldman1

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Best way to counter is better missiles and platforms from air launch to ground launch and so on. Think of HIMARs with Smerch like platform. Able to fire bigger or longer missiles but have its own crane to reload quickly.
@gambit @F-22Raptor @jhungary
On a different platform for bigger missiles like IRBMs it doesn't have to be hypersonic, can be conventional IRBMs with MARVs. Should be on this type of platform. We have seen the Chinese, Russians, Ukrainians, Turkish have these types. Imagine if the PRSMs were longer missiles, already 13 feet long and they plan to get it around 800km or more. So add another 10 feet and it could go more than 2000km range. China and Russia's missiles of those size are bigger in diameter and longer around 24 feet.

mfc-20-14141-AUSA-OpFires-r3.jpg.pc-adaptive.full.medium.jpeg


Army2016demo-064.jpg
PHL03_MLRS_2.jpg
EUXBshnWoAETAbm.jpg
 

gambit

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well the one who recieved the training changed it to the taliban fighting style and well they failed , unlike taliban in afghanistan . seems the advisors were not good teacher
Aaahhh...So essentially, the Taliban style of a combat force is too unique outside of Afghanistan that no one can adopt it, except by becoming a Taliban.
 

araz

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So when will the Taliban send military 'advisors' to other countries?
Forget the click baits. Tell us what you think of the move to changes mentioned in the article and how it will effect the functioning.
From a pure layman's perspectivethe idea in a nutshell seems to sacrifice protection for rapidity of deployment and mobility. Do you think it would increase marines losses in case of a full blown war?
Gambit you are valuable to this forum because you give us perspective ( the US one before someone says so) and teach us the basics of military warfare and thinking behind it to lay people like me.
Help appreciated in advance.
A
 

jhungary

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Best way to counter is better missiles and platforms from air launch to ground launch and so on. Think of HIMARs with Smerch like platform. Able to fire bigger or longer missiles but have its own crane to reload quickly.
@gambit @F-22Raptor @jhungary
On a different platform for bigger missiles like IRBMs it doesn't have to be hypersonic, can be conventional IRBMs with MARVs. Should be on this type of platform. We have seen the Chinese, Russians, Ukrainians, Turkish have these types. Imagine if the PRSMs were longer missiles, already 13 feet long and they plan to get it around 800km or more. So add another 10 feet and it could go more than 2000km range. China and Russia's missiles of those size are bigger in diameter and longer around 24 feet.

mfc-20-14141-AUSA-OpFires-r3.jpg.pc-adaptive.full.medium.jpeg


Army2016demo-064.jpg
PHL03_MLRS_2.jpg
EUXBshnWoAETAbm.jpg
Many people forgot the fact that US Marine Corp were, from design in 1774, is a LIGHT INFANTRY FORCE.

US Marine is much like the US Army Paratrooper, it is not a conventional force. That being said. Over the year, the clown at Pentagon put Marine into a conventional force and give them tank and standalone aviation unit to "Buff" it up. It's ridiculous to do that because you are making a light infantry, which serve a specific purpose (Amphibious Operation) into a conventional force, it's like back in the WW2, when we use the Army Airborne as a conventional force and perform tailgate jump instead of combat jump.

I guess the US Marine Motto said it all, Hit Hard, Hit Quick, Hit Often. They are a mobile force designed to perform a surgical strike to the enemy, so the conventional force can be inserted. Which mean whatever they process must be mobile, mobile artillery, mobile anti-tank weapon and so on. Which is what the Marine should go for. Instead of giving them M1 Abrams and use them like regular infantry.
 

Hack-Hook

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Aaahhh...So essentially, the Taliban style of a combat force is too unique outside of Afghanistan that no one can adopt it, except by becoming a Taliban.
well you must ask them why its the case , not me our war doctorine is somehow different from them.

I guess the US Marine Motto said it all, Hit Hard, Hit Quick, Hit Often. They are a mobile force designed to perform a surgical strike to the enemy, so the conventional force can be inserted. Which mean whatever they process must be mobile, mobile artillery, mobile anti-tank weapon and so on. Which is what the Marine should go for. Instead of giving them M1 Abrams and use them like regular infantry.
in the age of drones and infrared cameras , that's a little hard
 

jhungary

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Forget the click baits. Tell us what you think of the move to changes mentioned in the article and how it will effect the functioning.
From a pure layman's perspectivethe idea in a nutshell seems to sacrifice protection for rapidity of deployment and mobility. Do you think it would increase marines losses in case of a full blown war?
Gambit you are valuable to this forum because you give us perspective ( the US one before someone says so) and teach us the basics of military warfare and thinking behind it to lay people like me.
Help appreciated in advance.
A
Whoever wrote that piece does not understand how Military work.......

US Marine were never, ever, since their inception, were considered a Conventional Force.

The purposed change is basically for the Marine to go back to Basic, stop acting like a conventional force and go back to being a light infantry as I explained to @Oldman1 in previous post. The value of US Marine is to siege key military objective on Day 1 of the war, or quickly deployed them to secure key objective. Both of which included the use of mobility. Use your mobility to out maneuverer your opponent and then wait for backup to arrive. That is the key for the US Marine.

If we start using them like they are a conventional force. Then there are just not enough Marine to go around, the USMC ground component is a 75,000 men force, it may be big (actually bigger than the entire British Army) but you don't have enough if manpower if they are used for regular combat duty. Giving them Tanks, and Tow Artillery are a big mistake, you may as well give them 400,000 men billing and call them Naval Infantry from now on.

Using them like how we use the Airborne Troop in Operation Market Garden was a mistake.

well you must ask them why its the case , not me our war doctorine is somehow different from them.


in the age of drones and infrared cameras , that's a little hard
So does aviation asset and delivery system.

Again, it's not that you can't see it coming, but rather you can see it but you can't do nothing because of their speed.
 

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