The People's Liberation Army Navy Marines (PLANM) has begun its first winter warfare training, deploying troops, heavy equipment and vehicles to the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base in Inner Mongolia, according to Kerry Herschelman in an article for the London-based Jane's Defence Weekly.
Around 3,000 troops have been mobilized for this brigade-size exercise in the northern region. Navy marines have previously trained in southern provinces to prepare for a potential amphibious warfare scenario in the disputed South China Sea, according to Herschelman.
Citing a report from China's official Xinhua news agency, Herschelman wrote that the marines, possibly from the 164th Marine Brigade, have already begun their journey to the north along with their vehicles.
Those vehicles include ZBD-05/Type 04 infantry fighting vehicles equipped with a 30mm gun, ZBD-05 amphibious assault vehicles with a 105mm gun, and PLZ-07B 122mm self-propelled howitzers. The vehicles have replaced the older Type 63/63C light amphibious tank and Type 86B infantry fighting vehicle in recent years, Herschelman said, while the older vehicles were based on the design of Soviet Union's PT-76 and BMP-1.
Herschelman said that the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China made the decision to move the marines from their bases in southern China to improve the marines' mission package. It is time for Chinese marines to move away from limited and small-scale action in the South China Sea to more complex operations that may call for integration with the rest of the People's Liberation Army, Herschelman added.