Marines just seized a small island in the Pacific as training for a looming China fight

news
Lance Cpl. Chris Pedroza, a rifleman with Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, the "China Marines," firing an M240G medium machine gun during low-light live-fire machine-gun training at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam on March 11. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Harrison C. Rakhshani)

Everything that is old may indeed be new again.

During World War II, U.S. Marines moved from island to island, famously fighting bloody battles against entrenched Japanese forces determined to dominate the Pacific. Now, as a potential conflict with China looms, the Marine Corps is dusting off this island-hopping strategy.

Last week, U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit led a series of simulated small island assaults in Japan, the Corps announced Thursday.

Marines with Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, during a live-fire range as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's simulated Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan, on March 13(U.S. Marine Corps/Gunnery Sgt. T. T. Parish)

The 31st MEU, supported by elements of the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Logistics Group and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, members of the Air Force 353rd Special Operations Group, and Army soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, practiced seizing Ie Shima Island.

After the Marines seized the island's airfield, U.S. troops quickly established a Forward Arming and Refueling Point. Additional force assets, such as Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, then moved in to deliver extra firepower.

Rocket artillery units brought in aboard the C-130Js carried out simulated long-range precision fire missions while the stealth fighters conducted expeditionary strikes with precision guided munitions.

"This entire mission profile simulated the process of securing advanced footholds for follow-on forces to conduct further military operations, with rapid redeployment," the Corps said in a statement. The exercise was part of the Corps' ongoing efforts to refine the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept, which is the modern version of the WWII-era island-hopping strategy.

A Marine with Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, bounding toward a defensive position during a live-fire range as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's simulated Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations at Camp Schwab.(U.S. Marine Corps/Gunnery Sgt. T. T. Parish)

"It is critical for us to be able to project power in the context of China, and one of the traditional missions of the Marine Corps is seizing advanced bases," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. "If you look at the island chains and so forth in the Pacific as platforms from which we can project power, that would be a historical mission for the Marine Corps and one that is very relevant in a China scenario."

As the National Defense Strategy makes clear, the U.S. military is facing greater challenges from near-peer threats in an age of renewed great power competition with rival powers. In the Pacific, China is establishing military outposts on occupied islands in the South China Sea while pursuing power projection capabilities designed to extend its reach beyond the first island chain.

With the U.S. and Chinese militaries operating in close proximity, often with conflicting objectives, there have been confrontations. A close U.S. ally recently expressed concern that the two powers might one day find themselves in a shooting war in the South China Sea.

Marines with Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, engaging targets while assaulting a defensive position during a live-fire range as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's simulated Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations at Camp Schwab.(U.S. Marine Corps/Gunnery Sgt. T. T. Parish)

"We continue to seek areas to cooperate with China where we can, but where we can't we're prepared to certainly protect both U.S. and allied interest in the region," Director of the Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said at the Pentagon last May.

"The United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific taking down small islands," he said when asked if the U.S. has the ability to "blow apart" China's outposts in the South China Sea. "We had a lot of experience in the Second World War taking down small islands that are isolated, so that's a core competency of the U.S. military that we've done before."

It's just a "historical fact," he explained.

Read more from Business Insider:

SEE ALSO: The Marine Corps Is Embracing A New Naval Warfare Concept For The Next Big Fight Against China

WATCH NEXT: America Needs Better Logistics To Compete With Russia And China

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A rocket was fired in Iraqi capital Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies, but caused no casualties, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.

A blast was heard in central Baghdad on Sunday night, Reuters witnesses said and two Baghdad-based diplomatic sources also said they heard the blast.

Read More Show Less

Officers from the California Highway Patrol arrested a homeless man Thursday morning after he allegedly threw a stolen Caltrans tripod onto Interstate 5 in downtown Sacramento, endangering the occupants of a van as it crashed through its windshield.

The incident happened just after 10:30 a.m., when the Caltrans survey tripod was stolen from the corner of Neasham Circle and Front Street, CHP South Sacramento said in a news release.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/ Sgt. Mike MacLeod)

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's parliament descended into chaos on Sunday when lawmakers brawled over the appointment of a new speaker, an inauspicious start to the assembly which was sitting for the first time since chaotic elections last year.

Results of last October's parliamentary election were only finalized earlier this month after repeated technical and organizational problems and widespread accusations of fraud.

Read More Show Less
FILE PHOTO: The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center iin Dublin, Georgia

RIVIERA BEACH — When a distraught patient opened fire at the VA Medical Center in February, Albert Gaines' long ago military training kicked into gear.

"When I saw the arm come up, I knew what was next, pow, pow, pow," said Gaines, who was doing his job, cleaning patient rooms, when gunfire erupted. "I hit the deck to minimize the target."

Now, three months after what his bosses at the hospital call "the active shooter incident," the 65-year-old Riviera Beach man still feels like a target is on him.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump could issue a pardon on Memorial Day for Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, former Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers accused of urinating on Taliban corpses, the New York Times is reporting.

The White House is working with the Justice Department and military services to get the paperwork necessary for the pardons in order, according to the Times.

Read More Show Less