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Military exercise opens to foreign students
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A group of foreign students studying at China's military academies will watch parts of a military exercise code-named "Vanguard-2008" being held at the central China's Henan Province on Monday night.

The 179 foreigners, from 67 countries, are mostly first year students at the Beijing based China's University of National Defense and the Nanjing Army Command College in eastern Jiangsu Province.

 The armored brigade is in prewar training.

 The armored brigade in prewar training

It is the largest group of foreign military students to observe a military exercise of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

The students are expected to observe the prewar strategy planning and organization at the commanding headquarters starting from Monday night and the highlight of the maneuvers -- a one-hour "actual" battlefield combat with live ammunition on Tuesday.

They would also visit the barracks, watch an armament exhibition, and talk with soldiers and commanders, said Xin Wei, spokesman of the drill.

"It's a lively lesson for the foreign students to get a better understanding of oriental military thought and the actuality of Chinese army today," he said.

The week-long military exercise, starting from Wednesday, is performed by a 2,282-strong armored brigade from the PLA Jinan Military Area Command, whose armaments are said to be among the best in the PLA land forces.

The annual drill is divided into four stages -- change of combat readiness, long-distance maneuvers, strategy planning, and combat. It is designed to test the capacity of the brigade on carrying out joint action with different arms of services in mountainous areas, said Major General Ma Jiuxing, director of the military exercise.

The PLA servicemen arrived at the Queshan training base on Monday afternoon, after a 77-hour long-distance maneuver.

Armed with equipment including armored cars, armed helicopters and transport helicopters, the brigade will fight fictitious "Blue Army" targets on a mountainous island with live ammunition. During the exercise, there will be round-the-clock attacks under electromagnetic conditions, said Ma.

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