BEIJING, January 18 (ChinaMil) -- Thousands of soldiers from the Marine Corps and a special operations regiment of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy maneuvered nearly 6,000km across seven provinces with various types of combat equipment on the first day of 2016 to conduct winter training in the Korla Training Base located in the Gobi Desert in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Rear Admiral Li Xiaoyan, commanding officer of the winter training and deputy chief of staff of the South China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy, received an exclusive interview.
Journalist: Please introduce the winter training briefly.
Li Xiaoyan: We selected more than 2,000 soldiers from the Marine Corps and a special operations regiment of the PLA Navy as well as various types of vehicles to participate in the winter training.
During the training, the troops carried out realistic training on a string of subjects, including offensive operations and actual-troop confrontation in the Gobi Desert under extreme cold weather conditions, which fully tested the marines' combat capability
Journalist: How did you transport such a large troop?
Li Xiaoyan: As planned, the thousands of marines and special operations members of the PLA Navy and various types of equipment were transported to a training base in Xinjiang via multi-dimensional and 3D troop projection, covering highway, waterway, railway and air transportation. So far, this is the longest-distance power projection of the PLA Navy involving the most approaches.
Journalist: You just mentioned that a special operations regiment of the PLA Navy also participated in this winter training. What's the significance of it?
Li Xiaoyan: The PLA Navy special operations regiment has been undertaking special operations such as maritime anti-terrorism, reconnaissance and sabotage operations for long years.
Their participation in such realistic training in the desert, which is vastly different from the maritime conditions they are familiar with, will help enhance the PLA Navy’s special operations troops’ capability of undertaking various tasks regardless of regional, spatial and climatic restrictions.
Journalist: The Marine Corps has completed training at cold region, on plateau, in forest and other complicated areas, and now it has come to the Gobi Desert. Can we say that the Marine Corps has been capable of all-terrain combat now?
Li Xiaoyan: The Marine Corps has participated in trans-MAC training at the Zhurihe Training Base, at cold northeast China, on plateau, and in the Gobi Desert successively, and have made progress and accumulated experiences, but it hasn’t reached the goal of all-terrain combat yet.
We are doing our best to make progress and improvement through trainings, so as to enable the marines to better adapt to different environment. We are constantly improving its all-terrain combat capability.
Journalist: What are the highlights of this training?
Li Xiaoyan: It's a realistic training all the way through. Starting with power projection, we designed enemy scenarios, put the troops in realistic confrontations, cancelled the previous adaptive training and directly started the confrontational training. This training is closer to a real combat in terms of the form of the organization.
Journalist: Every time the Marine Corps organized trans-MAC operations, it drew close attention at home and abroad. Some media even described it as "having ulterior motives". What's your opinion?
Li Xiaoyan: That's a misunderstanding. The usual training standard and the topic of the time faced by all marines around the world is all-terrain combat, including combat operations in different seasons and regions.
The U.S. Marine Corps is a classic example of global, all-terrain and all-weather operations. By means of "Devil Training" that challenges physiological limit, field survival training and combat training in forest, cities, countryside and cold regions, it tempers the marines' strong body, firm will and all-terrain combat capability.
The purpose of having the winter training in Xinjiang's Gobi Desert is to enhance the PLA Navy’s special operations members’ capabilities and skills instead of targeting any specific hotspot issue or region. It's a normal training of the Marine Corps of the PLA Navy.
Journalist: What training do you think the Marine Corps should carry out next?
Li Xiaoyan: The Marine Corps is an all-terrain force. At present, our winter training is still in the stage of improvement, perfection and exploration, and we will organize a top-down self-reflective summary after this training.
Given China's vast territory, cold regions, desert, plateau and forest are all "destinations" of our normalized exercises.
We will consider establishing the military-civilian 3D power projection coordination mechanism to realize more efficient power projection. And we will explore the path of using civilian resources and military-civilian integration to make the training more efficient.
Moreover, the realistic training of the Marine Corps shall develop in the direction of integrated confrontation involving more arms and services.
The authors are Shang Wenbin, Liang Jingfeng and Li Youtao, reporters from the Chinanews.com.