The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach via Reuters)

The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

If the Marine Corps is serious about getting ready to take on a near-peer enemy like China in the future, then it's time to fold its 13-year-old special operations command and apply those resources elsewhere.

At least that's the argument one retired Marine officer made this week while presenting ways the service can better prepare for large-scale naval operations – and it's causing quite a stir in the Marine Corps special operations community.

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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

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, speaks to Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during a visit aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Marines and Sailors with the 11th MEU are conducting routine operations as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group in the eastern Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Dalton S. Swanbeck)

The Marine Corps' top general on the west coast is readying his Marines for the next big war against a near peer competitor, and one of his main concerns is figuring out how to alter the mindset of troops that have been fighting insurgencies since 9/11.

"If anything my problem is getting people out of the mindset of [counterterrorism] and making sure they're thinking about near peer adversaries in their training programs," Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California, told Task & Purpose in an interview on Friday.

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brigade under the PLA 72nd Group Army. (Chinese People's Liberation Army/Peng Xianhua )

China claims to be developing "magnetized plasma artillery."

The Chinese military recently published a notice inviting researchers to devise a weapon that sounds like a sort of electromagnetic rail gun—which uses magnetism instead of gunpowder to fire shells—that several nations are developing. But actually deploying railguns has been hampered by the size of the weapon and especially the vast amount of electrical energy needed to propel a shell to speeds of greater than Mach 7. For example, despite years of research and vast sums of money, the U.S. Navy appears less than optimistic about fitting railguns on its warships.

But Chinese scientists believe that magnetized plasma artillery will be so light and energy-efficient that it can be mounted on tanks.

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Military vehicles carrying Chinese-made drones march past the Tiananmen Rostrum during the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, China, 3 September 2015 (Imaginechina via AP Images)

For years, drone warfare has been an essentially American pursuit. The new age of armed robots has been symbolized by Predators and Reapers spewing Hellfire missiles.

But guess who's the biggest exporter of combat drones? China.

"In 2014–18 China became the largest exporter in the niche market of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), with states in the Middle East among the main recipients," according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which compiles estimates of global military strength and arms spending.

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