“Frozen Chosen” Marines

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Photo by Pfc. Kasey Peacock, USMC

TOKYO – Marines from I Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, slog through wind and snow during a joint training exercise with Japanese troops at the Hokkaido-Dai Maneuver Area in northern Japan last week. The exercise took place during one of the worst blizzards in the region in recent memory, with temperatures below zero F (–18 C), gale-force winds and snowfall measured in feet; at least eight local residents died in the storm.

The 6th Marines are based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but began a yearlong deployment to Okinawa, Japan, last month, part of the U.S. “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region. The Hokkaido training area is located across the Sea of Japan from the Korean Peninsula, where Marines fought an epic winter battle at the Chosin Reservoir in opening year of the Korean War.


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All that gear is tested at 70 degrees below zero at the Army materials research labs.


The  battle at the Chosin Reservoir was a result of failures of US military intelligence in both senses of the words. It brought a new appreciation of Chinese fortitude regarding its immediate area of interest, which hopefully still has an affect as the US pivots to China's neighborhood.

Actually, it's happening in stages. First, nearly a century ago, the western powers led by the US Marines sent military forces into China itself, then into China's neighbor Korea, then supporting Taiwan's de facto (not de jure) independence, and now the US has to consider China's extension of influence from its "near abroad" further out with more effective strike weapons, as it evolves its strategic doctrine from continental border defense to “offshore defense.”


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