Key point: In wartime, a Marine rocket battery could quickly deploy to one island aboard Marine or Air Force transports and lob a few rockets at Chinese ships while the transports idled nearby.
The U.S. Marine Corps wants new missiles so its forces can help the U.S. Navy to sink enemy ships.
And it wants them soon, according to Megan Eckstein, reporting for USNI News.
"There’s a ground component to the maritime fight," Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, said at a February 2019 conference in San Diego.
"We’re a naval force in a naval campaign," Neller said. "You have to help the ships control sea space. And you can do that from the land."
Neller said land-based sea-control forces would complement, not replace, Marine aircraft operating in the anti-ship role.
Marine units with anti-ship missiles could spread out across islands in order to control strategic ocean checkpoints. "So there’s a lot of geographical chokepoints, and you know what they are, and the potential adversaries know what they are," Neller said. "So if you get there first and you can control that space, then you have an operational advantage."
"Fortifying the offshore island chain while deploying naval assets in adjoining waters could yield major strategic gains on the cheap," James Holmes, a professor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, advised in 2014. "Doing so is common sense."
The Marines' new missile should be compatible with Navy ships, Neller stressed. "This is the same type of stuff you’d want to put on a ship." The Corps could team up with the Navy to test the new weapon, Neller pointed out.