Home Americas US Marines slashing tank battalions in sweeping force restructuring plan

US Marines slashing tank battalions in sweeping force restructuring plan

M1A1 Abrams
Illustration: US Marines fire an M1A1 Abrams tank main cannon during training in United Arab Emirates

The US Marine Corps intends to cut all its tank battalions and focus instead on long range fires and unmanned systems as part of a 10-year plan that aims to transform the Corps into a leaner and more optimized force.

The force design effort is a threat-informed, concept-based approach within a 10-year time horizon, intended to design a force to address National Defense Strategy defined threats.

By the year 2030, the Marine Corps will see complete divestments of Law Enforcement Battalions, Tank Battalions and associated Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), and all Bridging Companies.

Additionally, the service will reduce the number of infantry battalions from 24 to 21, while artillery cannon batteries will be reduced from 21 to 5. Furthermore, amphibious vehicle companies will go down from 6 to 4, and tilt rotor, attack, and heavy lift squadrons will also be reduced.

What is more, the plan will see the service reduce the number of F-35B and C aircraft per squadron from 16 to 10.

Shifting Focus

The announced reductions are being undertaken to put more focus on the expansion of long range fires, with an envisioned 300 percent increase in rocket artillery capacity, paired with anti-ship missiles. The service also wants to heavily invest in unmanned systems, with the aim of doubling the number of UAS squadrons and austere lethal unmanned air and ground systems.

The Corps further said it would seek new capabilities to increase littoral maritime mobility and resilience, including a new light amphibious warship, as well as more affordable stern-landing and operational support vessels.

“Developing a force that incorporates emerging technologies and a significant change to force structure within our current resource constraints will require the Marine Corps to become smaller and remove legacy capabilities,” the service said in a release.

“A total force reduction of approximately 12,000 personnel is expected over a 10-year period, representing a less than seven percent reduction of the Marine Corps’ total force structure.”