WASHINGTON --- The Marine Corps has decided it must eliminate its tank battalions and reduce its infantry and artillery units in 10 years as it converts its force to one more aligned with taking on potential adversaries such as China, the service announced Monday.
Gen. David Berger, the Marine commandant, said in October that the Marine Corps is “not optimized for great competition. It is not optimized to support a naval campaign.” The reality of the world has forced them to “throw out old assumptions and start fresh,” he said at the time.
Since summer, the Marine Corps has undergone a review of its personnel, units, and equipment to determine what type of forces the service will need to fight future battles.
The Pentagon's 2018 National Defense Strategy puts China and Russia as the major world powers that the United States must be prepared to challenge as America’s military advantages decline. The economic policies of China and its militarization of the South China Sea and Russia’s efforts to undermine NATO and its nuclear arsenal are major concerns for the U.S. military, according to the National Defense Strategy.
“The Marine Corps is redesigning the 2030 force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces, fully aligning the service with the direction of the [National Defense Strategy],” the service Combat Development Command said in a statement, adding it will continue to evaluate and adjust the force design.
The Marine unit categories that will see reductions in 10 years are:
• Infantry battalions will go down to 21 from 24
• Artillery batteries will go to five down from 21
• Amphibious vehicle companies will go down to four from six
• F-35B and F-35C Lightning II fighter squadrons will have less aircraft per unit, from 16 aircraft down to 10. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: By reducing the number of F-35s per squadron from 16 to 10 aircraft, the Marine Corps will reduce the number of F-35s it will buy for its 18 fighter squadrons by 108 aircraft, or about one-quarter of the 420 F-35s the Marines originally planned to buy.
That is a significant reduction in the total number of F-35B STOVL variants, for which the Marine Corps is by far the largest customer.)