The Chinese military website posted a video that said: “Recently, a synthetic brigade of the 73rd Army of the Army launched a beach-grabbing and landing exercise in a certain sea area in southern Fujian to comprehensively test the ability of officers and soldiers to cross the sea,” on Oct. 11.

The amphibious forces of the 73rd Army

The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) army has three armies, 71, 72, and 73, respectively, stationed in Xuzhou (Jiangsu province), Huzhou (Zhejiang province), and Xiamen (Fujian province). Therefore, the exercise in the video is probably a mixed amphibious brigade of the 73rd Army or a light hybrid unit.

Two amphibious brigades can be equipped with Type 05 crawler landing vehicles, capable of conducting the first landing with the Marines.

Two light mixed brigades can be equipped with troop carriers and transported by large amphibious ships.

One medium-sized mixed brigade can be equipped with Type 11 or Type 92 wheeled armored vehicles.

One heavy mixed brigade is equipped with Type 96 tanks and Type 04 armored vehicles and needs a large lander for transportation. It cannot land in the first wave and can only land after the beach is occupied.

One special operations brigade could be used to disperse troops according to its estimation.

One artillery brigade requires a sizeable amphibious ship for transport.

One army aviation brigade can be equipped with several helicopters, but the CCP Type 075 amphibious assault ship currently only has one in the Southern Theater Command. The Type 071 amphibious warfare ship features a vehicle deck, a well-deck, a landing deck, and a hangar. It can carry a combination of marines, vehicles, landing craft, and helicopters. It may embark 600 to 800 troops. In addition, the stern helicopter deck offers two landing spots for supporting the operations of two transport helicopters.

Helicopters can only wait for another transport and can not participate in amphibious warfare. Even if they do participate, dealing with Taiwan’s Stinger missiles will be challenging.

One anti-aircraft brigade, one industrial and chemical brigade, and one logistical support brigade can only wait to make reinforcements after the landings.

The latest video from the Chinese military website shows that the amphibious exercises on small amphibious ships may not be a mixed amphibious brigade with amphibious combat vehicles but a mixed light compound brigade or special operations brigade. It is also possible that amphibious combat vehicles are not enough and that the remaining soldiers must wait on amphibious ships.

Ten soldiers can be seen sitting on a small boat without a defense system on Oct. 11, 2021. (Bayi TV of China Military Network/Screenshot by TheBL)

The small boat in the video can only hold ten people. A brigade of about 6,000 men needs at least 600 small boats. If two light mixed troops and one extraordinary operation brigade land simultaneously, at least 1,800 small boats would be required. Mixed medium, heavy, and artillery brigades could only wait until the front line was captured before large amphibious ships could dock and unload heavy equipment such as tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery. Half of about 65,000 men in an army have no way to enter the war quickly.

The first wave of small landers

In the video above, soldiers wade ashore after a small landing craft of 10 people docked. They were sitting in small boats incapable of defense and attack. According to the theory, the second wave of dispersed troops was conducted after the combat vehicle landed.

However, the video shows that after the soldiers got off the boat, clearing barricades on the beach appeared to play an essential role in the first assault landing. In modern warfare, such exercises are the equivalent of the amphibious model when American forces began to counterattack in the early stages of the Pacific War.

Even in the latter part of the Pacific War, the U.S. military began to use amphibious combat vehicles in large numbers rather than just using amphibious ships.

Through a series of landings in the counterattack in the Pacific battlefield, the American Army quickly learned from experience to at least use superior sea and air firepower to suppress enemy positions; promptly set up the battlefield onshore; followed by a succession of landings, supplies, and heavy equipment. The CCP currently does not have this capability.

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