Chinese military to improve combat capabilities
Full coverage: China’s Leaders
Full coverage: China’s Leaders
The Chinese military has inaugurated two new forces -- its rocket force and strategic support force. The military is also establishing the army leadership institution. This is the latest effort to build a strong, modern military. At the same time, the CPC Central Military Commission has unveiled guidelines on military reforms.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L F), confers the military flag to Li Zuocheng (C F), commander of the Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), and Liu Lei, political commissar of the Army, in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 31, 2015. The general commands of the PLA Army, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force were founded on Thursday. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
A big rise in the status of China’s 2nd artillery force—the PLA’s strategic deterrent force. It’s been officially re-named as China’s Rocket Force, making the PLA a joint force with the Land, Navy, and Air Force.
In addition, the Strategic Support Force has been formed to highlight the importance of electronics and space in military strategies.
"The formation of the Rocket Force, and the Strategic support Force, is a major decision made by the Central Military Commission to realize the dreams of a strong army. It’s also a crucial measure in rebuilding a modern force," President Xi said.
The newly established Forces are only part of the ongoing reforms the army is undertaking.
On Friday, the Central Military Commission released a key statement revealing the direction of that process, and stressing their determination to achieve the reforms.
The key message is the strengthening of the army leadership, and the move away from its decades’ old land-centric system towards a joint command system that will upgrade the army's overall capabilities.
"The reform statement clarifies why there's a need to reform, what to reform, how to reform. It makes clear requirements for the army, and will play a supporting role," said Yang Yujun, Spokesman of China's Defense Ministry.
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the founding ceremony of the general commands of the Army, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 31, 2015. The general commands of the PLA Army, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force were founded on Thursday. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
Guidelines for China’s military reform plans were announced in November, as President Xi Jinping vowed a “breakthrough” in the overhaul by 2020.
President Xi's statement indicates that the current 7 military command regions will be transformed into several combat areas to better coordinate joint operational strength.
China has decided to cut 300,000 troops, which will leave two million personnel in the army. China wants to build a modern military system that can potentially win an information-based war.
Many believe the reform of the military is a major task for the leadership. It will deeply transform the army and the country’s security landscape.
It's been decades since Chinese armed forces have faced actural military conflict. But the army believes the best way to avoid conflict is by having the capabilities to deter a war. The PLA is undergoing a deep transformation, and focusing more on quality. The direction is clear now. Yet the true value of restructuring for the overall capabilities will take time to be felt.