These large-scale maneuvers have been widely covered by the press, but alongside the better known drill, from October 29 to November 4, there was another one held quietly in Okinawa. The annual Blue Chromite exercise was initiated by US Navy and US Marine Corps three years ago and is unknown to the general public.
No Place for Strangers Here
The goal of this year's exercise was to train seizing naval bases and coastal fortified settlements from an opposing force; coordination of forces at sea, on land and in the air to ensure the safe landing of Marines ashore and maneuvering on land including rapid evacuation practice.
The scenario involves fast multiple raids of marines from ships and aircraft to the coast without deploying permanent basing points, so that the landed units are not be involved in a prolonged standoff.
What do the Generals Say?
“As our adversaries developed capabilities out here, those large bases may not be as secure. So we’re looking at doing disaggregated, distributed operations both at sea and around the littorals in the land that supports that sea space in ways that we haven’t normally done it,” he added. The General called it “back to the future.”
Before the drills kicked off, the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller visited the US Marine base in Okinawa and told his forces that they are likely see more training in the future for biological, chemical and nuclear attacks. Neller added that the Marine Corps is supportive of US efforts to recapitalize its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent.
The commandant also told marines they must adapt to face new adversaries as the United States shifts from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to preparations for potential future foes like North Korea, China, Russia and Iran.
New Purposes, New Concepts
The new Marine Corps Operating Concepts puts a focus on the Pacific battle ground and its populous littoral cities. China and Russia are implied as the most probable potential adversaries, although it is not openly stated.
In fact, the US Marine Corps are actively preparing for operations which would allow the US to wage war in conditions of so-called Area Denial Systems (A2/AD, Anti-Access), when the range of technologically advanced enemy’s radars and missiles does not allow US forces to operate at sea and in the air unchallenged.
In the case of the outbreak of hostilities, marines are to parachute to the shore and destroy an enemy’s area denial systems. The recent Blue Chromite exercise in Okinawa was an element of practical training to fulfill that task.