The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is set to increase the size of its Marine Corps from about 20,000 to 100,000, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on March 13. According to unnamed PLA insiders and experts interviewed by SCMP, elements of the expanded Marine Corps would be stationed abroad, including Djibouti in the Horn of Africa and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan.
The PLA Marine Corps (PLAMC), part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has gradually been expanding its size over the last couple of years as its mission is slowly expanding from conducting operations in China’s coastal areas — including defending Chinese holdings in the East and South China Seas, next to preparing for a possible amphibious assault on Taiwan — to more global roles.
“The PLA marines will be increased to 100,000, consisting of six brigades in the coming future to fulfill new missions of our country,” a source told SCMP. The source also noted that two combat brigades were already transferred to the PLAMC, increasing the size from roughly 12,000 (two understrength brigades) to around 20,000.