At the end of October, a delegation of the Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) visited Moscow on an official visit to 2016. During the visit, a Russian-Chinese scientific seminar was held on the theme “Military Reforms. Experience and lessons. Leading scientists of the Research Institute (Military stories) The Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the PLA Academy of Military Sciences discussed issues of past and present military reforms in Russia (USSR) and China. The article discusses the main directions of modern military policy and military construction of the PRC.
BRIEF HISTORY OF MILITARY REFORMS IN THE PLA
The reforms in the PLA began from its inception. In November 1949, the first major reorganization of the PLA took place, the Air Force was created. In April 1950, the Navy was created. Also in 1950, the governing structures of artillery, armored troops, air defense forces, public security forces, and workers' and peasant militia were created. Later, chemical defense troops, railway troops, communications troops, the Second Artillery Corps (nuclear missile forces) and others were created.
During the 1950-s with the help of the Soviet Union, the PLA was transformed from a peasant army into a modern one. Part of this process was the creation of 13 military districts in the 1955 year.
Since the victory in the civil war and the formation of the People's Republic of China, the PLA number has steadily declined, although it remained the largest in the world. The number of military districts was also reduced: in 1960, their number was reduced to 11, during the reform of 1985 – 1988 - to 7. At the same time, the level of training of troops and technical equipment was constantly improving, and the combat potential of the Chinese army grew.
One of the “four upgrades” announced by Zhou Enlai in 1978 was the modernization of the armed forces. During it, the army was reduced, its supply of modern equipment was improved.
Since the 1980-ies, the People’s Liberation Army of China has changed significantly. Before that, it was mainly a land one, since the “main threat from China” was considered “the threat from the north” by the USSR. In 1980, independent Taiwan, supported by the United States, and the conflict in the South China Sea over the Spratly Islands, became the main focus of concentration. The shape of the army changed - there was a gradual transition from the massive use of infantry to the actions of a few, well-equipped highly mobile units in cooperation with the Air Force and Navy. Deng Xiaoping stressed that the PLA should focus more on quality, not quantity. In 1985, the army was reduced by a million people, and in 1997, by another half a million, to 2,5 million.
The PRC closely follows the world military conflicts and takes into account the experience of innovations. At the same time, the experience of military reforms in the USSR (Russia), European countries and the USA is being actively studied. The PLA is no longer preparing for large-scale ground operations, but is being improved to participate in high-tech local conflicts, perhaps far beyond the borders of China. Increasing attention is being paid to mobility, intelligence, information and cyber war. PLA adopts weaponpurchased in Russia - the latest destroyers, airplanes, anti-aircraft systems, as well as numerous samples of its own production - Jian-10 fighters, Jin-class submarines, Liaoning aircraft carrier, Tanks Type-99 and many others.
The military reforms and the modernization of the PLA affected the qualitative composition of the army, especially the officers in terms of their rejuvenation, the introduction of new military ranks. The military education system was reformed. Instead of 116 military schools, several dozen new types of educational institutions appeared - the University of National Defense, the Command Institute of the Ground Forces, the Military Pedagogical Institute, the Military Economic Institute, the Military Institute of International Relations, etc. The leadership of the Armed Forces set and successfully solved the task - by 2000, all the officers had to have a higher education.
Now the military service system combines compulsory and voluntary service, being in the people's militia and service in the reserve. The period of compulsory military service is reduced in all forms of the Armed Forces to two years. The extra urgent 8 – 12 years earlier were abolished, and contractual service was introduced for a period of not less than three years and no more than 30.
The pace of reform of the Chinese army gradually increased from the end of the 2000s. A powerful breakthrough was made in the equipment of the PLA. At present, the People’s Republic of China is taking unprecedented steps in reforming its Armed Forces. The implementation of the plans contributes to the growth of economic potential. The reforms and modernization of the Armed Forces are considered by the military-political leadership of the PRC as an integral part of social and economic development. If only recently the goal of transforming the Armed Forces in China was to achieve superiority over the countries of the Asia-Pacific region in order to ensure the regional security of the country, then at present the role of military force in protecting national interests is considered in a global context. PLA soldiers participate in UN peacekeeping operations and in international humanitarian missions, the Chinese Navy joins the international fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
The PRC strategy in the field of military security provides for a wide range of political, economic and military measures. According to the military-political course chosen by the CPC, the reform of the PLA should ensure the security and national unity of the country. This, in turn, involves not only protecting China’s land, sea and airspace, but also ensuring the country's security at all levels in its strategic development.
Since 2006, China has been implementing the “Modernization of National Defense and Armed Forces” program. Today it is safe to say that the first stage of this program, which includes the creation of fundamental bases and transformations, is nearing completion. Before 2020, the CPC expects to achieve the so-called general progress in the main areas of modernization of the Chinese Armed Forces.
WHAT DID THE RUSSIAN-CHINESE SCIENTIFIC WORKSHOP SHOW
In the course of the Russian-Chinese scientific seminar “Military Reforms. Experience and Lessons ”The leading researchers of the PRC in the field of military history told about the changes in military construction in the PRC at the present stage. As noted, at present, the transformation process covers not only the Chinese Armed Forces, but also many areas of society, such as politics, economy and culture.
The head of the Chinese delegation, political commissar of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, Lieutenant General Gao Donglu, in his speech emphasized that the People’s Liberation Army of China is currently at a new stage in the development of reforms. At the present stage, the main task of reforming the Chinese Armed Forces, according to Lieutenant-General Gao Donglu, is the creation of a scientifically based and rational management system, an effective system of joint operational command, proportionally organized organizational structure of the Armed Forces, as well as increasing the combat capability of the army and problems of a political nature. Ultimately, the main task is to create a powerful army, "able to fight and win."
The Chinese side presented the report “The process of implementing military reforms and the modernization of the Chinese army. Experience and Lessons ”, which was delivered by Senior Colonel Li Shuin, Head of the European Armies Research Directorate, Foreign Armies Research Department, AVN PLA. She said that China takes into account the changes taking place on the world stage, adapts to the global trends of military reform. At the same time, the Chinese leadership believes that, following the large-scale use of information technologies in the military sphere, new forms of military and military operations may appear in the near future: “The war has already entered a new era of“ instant destruction ”. Based on these realities, lined up the goals and objectives of the military reforms undertaken by the PRC.
In the content of this task, the speaker identified four main components:
- improvement of the command and control system;
- optimization of the strength of the Armed Forces and the organizational structure;
- determining the political course of the army;
- integration of the army and society.
At the same time, the improvement of the command and control system is the most important issue, requiring the application of basic forces and providing a breakthrough in other areas.
In a report, the Chinese side commented on the update of the system of central military command bodies subordinate to the Central Military Council (PRC) of the PRC.
The General Staff, the Main Political Directorate (GPU), the General Directorate of Logistics (GUT), the General Directorate of Armaments and Military Equipment (GUVVT) were transformed into 15 military administrative units, which report directly to the highest military body - the Central Military Council (CEC), the chairman which is Xi Jinping. As a result of the changes, the Joint Headquarters, the Office of the Central Military Administration, the Political Work Directorate, the Logistics Support Directorate, the Arms Development Directorate, the Combat Training Directorate, the Defense Mobilization Directorate, the Center for Discipline Inspection, the Political and Legal Commission, the Scientific and Technical Committee, Strategic Planning Department, Reform and Acquisition Department, International Military Cooperation Department, Audit Office, and General Organization and Record Management s (Administrative Department) CRV.
According to the Chinese side, the changes will make it possible to make more rational work of the headquarters of the CA, the executive authorities of the CA, the service of the CA, more clearly distinguish between the powers of management, construction, management and control, as well as simplify the implementation of four main functions: decision-making, planning, performance and evaluation.
The speaker emphasized that when reforming the PLA, the recommendations of military science are emphasized.
The Chinese side noted the changes in the military-administrative division of the territory of the PRC.
1 February 2015, 7 military districts are transformed into 5 combat command zones (Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern and Central), which are subject to all unions and formations in their area of responsibility in peacetime and wartime.
Thus, the new control system provides for the transition of the Armed Forces of China to a three-tier system of operational joint management: CWS - zone command - connections and units. In the combat command zones, respectively, the commands of the Armed Forces with the appropriate command and control structures were created: the command of the Ground Forces, the command of the Naval Forces, the command of the Air Force.
31 December The 2015 of the year was created by the headquarters of the Ground Forces, at the same time the Strategic Support Forces were created. The strategic nuclear forces ("second artillery") were renamed the Missile Forces. Thus, in China, the 5 types of aircraft have become: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Forces, and Strategic Support Forces. At the same time, a three-level command and control system was created: CWS — a type of aircraft — parts and formations.
The logistics system of the PLA has been improved. 13 September 2016 Chairman of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping signed a decree on the establishment of the Combined Logistics Support Forces Center.
Combined logistics support troops provide logistic support and strategic and operational support. Includes a joint logistics support base (Wuhan City) and five integrated logistics support centers. The forces of the united rear support form the backbone of the rear forces and form an integrated support system in a common command and control system for the all-round system, joint and point support of the troops.
The Chinese representatives explained that in the future the reforms of the PRC Armed Forces will be aimed at reducing the number of PLA.
In particular, the main cuts will affect the military authorities and non-combat structures. The military administration will be reduced redundant numbers of personnel at all levels, will also be reduced the number of senior positions. In the troops, the main thing is the reduction of units on outdated military equipment, in order to use the freed up staff structures to fill up the new combat capabilities of the troops.
The Chinese side expressed confidence that after the reforms, the PLA’s combat capability and its ability to decisively protect the sovereignty, the country's security and its peaceful development will significantly increase. At the same time, the PLA continues to adhere to a defensive strategy in the form of the military doctrine of "active defense" in order to protect regional and universal peace.
In his closing remarks, the head of the Chinese delegation emphasized that the reform of the armed forces of the PRC was revolutionary. The PLA is developing with an emphasis on interspecific interaction, mobility, the introduction of innovative technologies capable of ensuring the compactness of the armed forces and their constant combat readiness.
Reforms of the Chinese Armed Forces, according to Chinese military historians, are designed for the period up to 2049. Its main goal is the creation of computerized armed forces capable of successfully operating in military conflicts with the use of information technology. The main content of the modernization of the PLA at the present stage is informatization and computerization of the Armed Forces, strengthening their combat capabilities by increasing the interaction of their types during joint operations. The ultimate goal of the military reform of the CCP is to create armed forces capable of effectively carrying out nuclear deterrence, successfully operating in a modern high-tech war on a local scale, as well as during antiterrorist operations.
Summing up the seminar, Russian and Chinese military scientists came to the conclusion that the field of military reform requires careful and in-depth study; it was suggested that a joint scientific collection be published in the near future. The sides expressed a common opinion on the importance of bilateral scientific cooperation in the field of military history.
It is worth noting that the reports submitted by the Chinese side were as open as possible. Analyzing the performances of Chinese scientists, we can conclude that the reform of the armed forces of the PRC is of large scale, as it is accompanied by cardinal decisions of the military-political leadership. The mechanisms of political control over the armed forces are changing. Of the old military structures of the Chinese Armed Forces, only the Central Military Council is maintained. But from the structure that exercised the general political leadership of the military sphere, it turns into the main body, which has 15 structures of direct subordination.
The system of logistic support of the PLA is radically changed.
According to experts, the Joint Staff is weaker than its predecessor: it has lost control over the system of education and training, mobilization, strategic planning and other areas. In addition, the units in the abolished General Staff that operated in cyberspace and were responsible for maintaining the EW will most likely be transferred to the Strategic Support Forces.
Taking into account the measures of the ongoing reform, the Chinese military doctrine retains a predominantly defensive nature.
At the same time, in Beijing, the main threats to China are still considered attacks on the sovereignty of the PRC by separatist forces acting under the slogans "For Taiwan Independence", "For Independence of Eastern Turkestan" and "For Independence of Tibet". The Chinese political leadership does not neglect the buildup of the US military presence in the APR, which is pursuing a strategy of “restoring the balance of power” and exerting pressure on the PRC through bilateral treaties with the countries of the region. The increase in China’s military potential is largely due to the preventive measures that are necessary as part of countering modern American weapons systems in the Asia-Pacific region. That is why the main forces of the most advanced Navy and Air Force, China concentrates in the south of the country to solve sea and oceanic problems with possible confrontation with the United States.
China also attaches great importance to the ability of the PLA to respond quickly to suddenly arising national security tasks. Recognizing the low probability of a world war in the foreseeable future, the PRC’s military reforms are primarily aimed at the PLA’s readiness for local wars. In this regard, recently, mobile forces are actively being created in the PLA to act in local conflicts around the perimeter of the state border, as well as to support the people's armed police. They can include up to a third of the PLA composition.
It is also worth noting that the political and military leadership of China is actively involved in international cooperation on global security issues. In this area, China has created and is implementing the "Concept of security of a new type based on interstate trust." According to the provisions of the concept, mutual equal security must be built on mutual trust and cooperation between states through dialogue, on interaction in security — without interfering in the internal affairs of other states and not doing damage to third countries. Also of great importance in the concept is the promotion of the idea of preventing the threat or damage by military force of the security and stability of other states.
The recent steps taken by the political leadership of the PRC through the SCO, ASEAN and the CIS suggest that China, trying to occupy a leading position among the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, is also trying to show the failure of the information campaign of the West aimed at creating world public opinion about "Chinese threat".
Based on the growing economic power, the PRC is improving the qualitative parameters of its defense potential based on science and advanced technologies. At the same time, the main vector of attention in this area is aimed at striving to increase the potential of nuclear deterrence, creating conditions under which the economically most developed eastern and coastal regions of the country will be covered as much as possible from air and sea attacks.
The armed forces of the People's Republic of China, a number of whose structures have not undergone major changes since the times of the Chinese Civil War 1930, will change to unrecognizable in the foreseeable future. According to Chinese scientists from the Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army of China, these will be the most modern armed forces on the planet in terms of innovations.
Chinese defense goes into innovation gap
- Victor Gavrilov
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