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Russian marine brigades to get tank battalions

Marine brigades of the Russian Navy will be reformed. Each one will get an additional four battalions, including a tank one. The heavy armor will help marines fight autonomously in any part of the world without any support from other arms of troops.

Russian marine brigades to get tank battalions
T-72B3 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The 61st Marine Brigade of the Northern Fleet will be the first to get a new staff matrix. The Russian marines are to develop into expeditionary forces in charge of various military and political tasks, the Izvestia daily writes.

The experience of the Russian operation in Syria where marines defended Humaymim and Tartus bases, as well as important infrastructures, will be taken into account in the reform. The experiment in the 61st Brigade will be used to decide on the reinforcement of other units, sources in the Defense Ministry said. The brigades will get a new staff matrix comprising six battalions instead of two currently, a reconnaissance company and smaller detachments. The tank units will reinforce the firepower and maneuvering capabilities of the marines. The armor will engage in major combat operations. The brigades will be also reinforced by two companies - sniper and drone. In the future, marines will also include their own air units, Defense Ministry sources said.

The transfer of expeditionary functions to marines is a well-considered move, former Navy Chief-of-Staff Admiral Valentin Selivanov said. "The operations like the Syrian one are becoming vital. It is the right decision to reinforce the marines. They are one of the most combat-ready types of troops with good skills, combat experience and history. The black berets participated in all the military conflicts of the past years. They properly fought also in Syria," he said.

The operation in Syria raised the issue of expeditionary forces, expert Mikhail Barabanov said. "Marines are most fit for the mission. They have to evacuate Russian citizens, control naval bases and coastal objects in military, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. They will hand over the mission to military police after the main forces arrive, but will remain in charge of the outside perimeter," he said.

The coastal forces of the Russian Navy have got five marine brigades. The Northern fleet operates the 61st Brigade deployed in the Kola Peninsula. The Black Sea fleet has the 810th brigade in Sevastopol. Two brigades operate in the Pacific fleet: the 155th in Vladivostok and the 40th in Kamchatka. The Baltic fleet has the 336th brigade in Kaliningrad region. The Caspian flotilla has got the 177th Regiment deployed in Astrakhan and Kaspiisk.

The new battalions, including the reconnaissance one, will reinforce the brigades. The outcome of combat operations greatly depends on scouts. They have to provide maximum information about the adversary to enable the HQ to prudently plan its actions. Scouts will interact with new drone companies.

The staffing matrix of a marine battalion comprises three companies, a self-propelled artillery battery, antitank and grenade launcher platoons, and other units. The strength is 400-500 men. The tank battalion will increase the firepower and combat sustainability of brigades. The drills where marines teamed with tankmen showed that the heavy armor is effective in defending the coast or a seaport. They advance from a seized stronghold, destroy adversary fire points and breakthrough fortifications.

Coastal forces, which include marines, are being rearmed. Marine units of the Pacific Fleet have recently received upgraded T-80BV and T-72B3 tanks. The navymen deployed in Kamchatka received a major batch of BTR-82A APC. They will be supplied also to other marine units, the Izvestia said.

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