Chapter III Revolution in Military Affairs with Chinese Characteristics

The PLA, aiming at building an informationalized force and winning an informationalized war, deepens its reform, dedicates itself to innovation, improves its quality and actively pushes forward the RMA with Chinese characteristics with informationalization at the core.

Reducing the PLA by 200,000

It has been the established policy to build a streamlined military with Chinese characteristics. Since the mid-1980s, China has twice downsized its military by a total of 1.5 million. In September 2003, the Chinese government decided to further reduce 200,000 troops by the end of 2005 to maintain the size of the PLA at 2.3 million. The current restructuring, while cutting down the numbers, aims at optimal force structures, smoother internal relations and better quality.

Rebalancing the ratio between officers and men. By streamlining structure, reducing the number of officers in deputy positions, filling officers' posts with non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and adopting a system of civilian employees, the number of the PLA officers can be substantially reduced to optimize the ratio between officers and men.

Improving the system of leadership and command. The emphasis is put on streamlining the staff offices and the directly affiliated organs at the corps level and above, so as to compress the command chains and further improve the operational command system to strengthen the command functions. The numbers of offices and personnel are both reduced by about 15% by adjusting staff functions, dismantling and merging offices and reducing the numbers of subordinate offices and assigned personnel.

Optimizing the composition of the services and arms of the PLA. The Army is streamlined by reducing the ordinary troops that are technologically backward while the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force are strengthened. The make-up of troops and the size of the services and arms are optimized with an increasing proportion of new- and high-tech units.

Deepening the reform of joint logistical support. The PLA continues to adopt the system of joint logistical support at military area commands. The scope of joint logistical support is further enlarged and the number of logistical organizations and personnel are reduced while the rear hospitals, recuperation centers and general-purpose warehouses formerly under the administration of the services and arms are all integrated and reorganized into the joint logistical support system. An integrated tri-service joint logistical support system gradually takes shape, thus improving the overall efficiency.

Realigning the organizational structure of military educational institutions. The PLA aims at improving the structure and system for educating military personnel in both military and civilian educational institutions, and speeding up the establishment and improvement of a new educational system. This new system focuses on pre-assignment education which is separated from education for academic credentials. In accordance with the requirements for running educational institutions intensively on a proper scale, the PLA has optimized the system and structure of educational institutions by cutting down on those that are not essentially different from their civilian counterparts, and those that are more than necessary, and merging those that are co-located or have similar tasks.

Strengthening the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force

While continuing to attach importance to the building of the Army, the PLA gives priority to the building of the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force to seek balanced development of the combat force structure, in order to strengthen the capabilities for winning both command of the sea and command of the air, and conducting strategic counter-strikes.

The PLA Navy is responsible for safeguarding China's maritime security and maintaining the sovereignty of its territorial seas along with its maritime rights and interests. The Navy has expanded the space and extended the depth for offshore defensive operations. Preparation for maritime battlefield is intensified and improved while the integrated combat capabilities are enhanced in conducting offshore campaigns, and the capability of nuclear counter-attacks is also enhanced. In accordance with the principle of smaller but more efficient troops, the PLA Navy compresses the chain of command and reorganizes the combat forces in a more scientific way while giving prominence to the building of maritime combat forces, especially amphibious combat forces. It also speeds up the process of updating its weaponry and equipment with priority given to the development of new combat ships as well as various kinds of special-purpose aircraft and relevant equipment. At the same time, the weaponry is increasingly informationalized and long-range precision strike capability raised. It takes part in joint exercises to enhance its joint operational capabilities and integrated maritime support capabilities.

The PLA Air Force is responsible for safeguarding China's airspace security and maintaining a stable air defense posture nationwide. In order to meet the requirements of informationalized air operations, the Air Force has gradually shifted from one of territorial air defense to one of both offensive and defensive operations. Emphasis is placed on the development of new fighters, air defense and anti-missile weapons, means of information operations and Air Force automated command systems. The training of inter-disciplinary personnel is being accelerated for informationalized air operations. Combined arms and multi-type aircraft combat training is intensified to improve the capabilities in operations like air strikes, air defense, information counter-measures, early warning and reconnaissance, strategic mobility and integrated support. Efforts are being made to build a defensive air force, which is appropriate in size, sound in organization and structure and advanced in weaponry and equipment, and which possesses integrated systems and a complete array of information support and operational means.

The PLA Second Artillery Force is a major strategic force for protecting China's security. It is responsible for deterring the enemy from using nuclear weapons against China, and carrying out nuclear counter-attacks and precision strikes with conventional missiles. By upgrading missiles, stepping up the R&D of missiles, and promoting the informationalization of missiles and supporting equipment for command, communications and reconnaissance, the Second Artillery Force has built in its initial form a weaponry and equipment system that comprises both nuclear and conventional missiles, covers different ranges, and possesses markedly increased power and efficiency. The PLA Second Artillery Force boasts a contingent of talents mainly composed of academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and missile specialists. More than 70% of its active-duty officers have bachelor's degrees or above. High-tech means are used to reform its training and shorten the cycle for new weaponry and equipment to be combat-ready. It conducts missile-launching training and readiness exercises in near-real conditions and constantly enhances its quick-response and precision-strike capabilities.

Speeding Up Informationalization

In its modernization drive, the PLA takes informationalization as its orientation and strategic focus. By adopting the general approach of giving priority to real needs, making practical innovations, valuing talented personnel, and achieving informationalization by leaps and bounds, the PLA is actively engaged in the research and practice of informationalization.

In the past two decades, the PLA has been pushing forward informationalization in the field of military operations, focusing on command automation. It has completed a series of key projects to build military information systems and made great progress in building information infrastructure. As a result, command means have been substantially improved at all levels of headquarters and combat troops. Computers and other IT equipment have been gradually introduced into routine operations. The ability to provide operational information support has been greatly enhanced while more and more IT elements have been incorporated into main battle weapon systems. The CMC has approved and promulgated the Guidelines for the Development of Automated Command Systems of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and the Regulations of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on Automated Command Systems, defining the goals and relevant policies and statutes for developing automated command systems.

In the new stage of the 21st century, the PLA strives to comprehensively push forward informationalization with military information systems and informationalized main battle weapon systems as the mainstay and with military informationalization infrastructure development supported and guaranteed. In its drive for informationalization, the PLA adheres to the criterion of combat efficiency and the direction of an integrated development, enhances centralized leadership and overall planning, develops new military theories and operational theories while optimizing management system and force structure, updating systems of statutes and standards, and emphasizing training for informationalization. The PLA strengthens the building of military information systems and speeds up the informationalization of main battle weapon systems. It also makes full use of various information resources and focuses on increasing system interoperability and information-sharing capability. The PLA takes advantage of progress in government and social sectors in the field of informationalization, and establishes a scientific research and production system and information mobilization mechanism that integrates military and civilian efforts to promote the informationalization process of both the PLA and the government.

Accelerating the Modernization of Weaponry and Equipment

The PLA regards weaponry and equipment as the crucial material and technological basis for pushing forward the RMA with Chinese characteristics. In accordance with the national security needs, the PLA accelerates the modernization of weaponry and equipment, depending on national economic development and technological advance.

In order to strengthen the capability to win local wars under informationalized conditions, the PLA, in its development of weaponry and equipment, stresses the importance of capstone design, persists in taking informationalization as the leading force while advancing mechanization and informationalization simultaneously, and strives to build a streamlined, efficient and optimized modern weaponry system appropriate in size and optimal in structure.

Giving priority to the development of new- and high-tech weaponry and equipment. The PLA intensifies its R&D efforts and strengthens its innovative capability through self-reliance. It accelerates the R&D of new informationalized combat platforms and precision munitions, as well as electronic counter-measures equipment, and puts more effort into elevating the capabilities for precision strikes and information operations.

Accelerating the modification of old and outmoded weaponry. A number of old and outmoded weapons and equipment, which are backward in technology, poor in performance and no longer cost-effective in maintenance, are being phased out, and part of the active-service main battle weaponry is reconfigured on a selective, priority and phasal basis. By embedding advanced technology, developing new munitions, and integrating command and control systems, the PLA has restored or upgraded the tactical and technical performance of some current main battle weapons.

Continuously elevating integrated support for weaponry and equipment. Taking existing weaponry and equipment as the basis, the PLA emphasizes the organic and systematic development of combat and support capabilities of weaponry and equipment. In accordance with the development of main battle weaponry and equipment, the PLA develops new types of general- and special-purpose support equipment, while strengthening the maintenance and technical support forces with priority given to new equipment and the training of personnel who employ, maintain and manage the new equipment, so as to elevate the integrated support of weaponry and equipment, thus satisfying the needs of readiness for military struggle.

Implementing the Strategic Project for Talented People

In August 2003, the CMC began to implement its Strategic Project for Talented People. The Project proposes that in one to two decades, the PLA will possess a contingent of command officers capable of directing informationalized wars and of building informationalized armed forces, a contingent of staff officers proficient in planning armed forces building and military operations, a contingent of scientists capable of planning and organizing the innovative development of weaponry and equipment and the exploration of key technologies, a contingent of technical specialists with thorough knowledge of new- and high-tech weaponry performance, and a contingent of NCOs with expertise in using weapons and equipment at hand. The Project will be implemented in two stages. By the end of 2010, there will be a remarkable improvement in the quality of military personnel, and a big increase in the number of well-educated personnel in combat units. The following decade will witness a big leap in the training of military personnel.

In recent years, the PLA has utilized military educational institutions as major platforms for training military personnel. Officer candidates have, in the main, been trained in four-year colleges. A functional transformation of military educational institutions is taking place with the emphasis shifting from academic credentials education to pre-assignment training. More and more military personnel with specialties for both military and civilian use will be trained by regular institutions of higher learning. So far, more than 90 such institutions have undertaken the task of training PLA cadres. In implementing the Project for Strengthening the Military with High-Caliber Personnel, nearly 30 key regular institutions of higher learning have trained a great number of Master Degree students for the PLA, whose specialties are urgently needed. Various training courses have been offered at military educational institutions, including courses for young and middle-aged cadres, high-tech knowledge training courses for leading cadres at the levels of military area command and corps, and training programs of cross-service and cross-arm expertise. Hundreds of military cadres have been sent to the central and provincial Party schools. Division and brigade commanding officers have been arranged for study tours abroad. The number of commanders has been increased among the overseas military students.

Intensifying Joint Training

Adapting to the features and patterns of modern warfare, the PLA has intensified joint training among services and arms at all levels to enhance joint fighting capabilities.

Highlighting joint operational training. In view of the future operational tasks, the PLA has given priority to training with specific objectives, joint operational training and high-level command post training. It has successfully organized a series of major joint operational training activities. Studies and exercises directed at operational issues are emphasized with additional attention to the development of operational doctrines and training regulations, and the construction of network systems. By exploring approaches for operational guidance, operational command and operational training for joint campaigns, the PLA has improved the capabilities of commanding officers at each level to organize and direct joint operations.

Conducting joint tactical training. To meet the needs of joint operations at the tactical level, units of different arms and services stationed in the same areas have intensified their contacts and cooperation in the form of regional cooperation to conduct joint tactical training. In September 2003, the General Staff Headquarters organized a PLA-wide demonstration on regional cooperation for military training in Dalian. That event drew lessons from regional cooperation for military training and explored new ways to conduct joint tactical training.

Improving the means of joint training. After years of development, substantial progress has been achieved in on-base training, simulation training and network training. Almost all combined tactical training activities at division, brigade and regiment levels can be conducted on base. All services and arms have set up their basic simulation training systems for operational and tactical command. A (joint) combat laboratory system of simulation training for all military educational institutions has been initially put in place. A military training network system has been set up to interconnect the LANs of military area commands, services and arms, and command colleges.

Training commanding officers for joint operations. The military educational institutions have intensified their joint operations training. The elementary command colleges offer basic courses in joint operations. The intermediate command colleges offer courses on service campaigns and combined operations. The advanced command university offers courses on strategic studies and joint operations. In order to bring up commanding officers for joint operations, PLA units carry out on-duty training and regional cooperation training, and acquire knowledge of other services and arms and joint operations through assembly training, cross-observation of training activities, academic seminars and joint exercises.

Deepening Logistical Reforms

The PLA continues to deepen, expand and coordinate the reforms of its logistical system, and makes efforts to enhance the capability to provide fast, efficient and integrated support.

Pushing forward an integrated tri-service support system. Experimental reforms of joint logistics started in the Jinan Theater in July 2004. First, all logistical organs of the three services are integrated into one. The Theater Joint Logistics Department or Joint Logistics Department of Military Area Command, originally called Logistics Department of Military Area Command, takes responsibility for joint logistical support for all in-theater units of the three services. The percentage of non-Army cadres in this department has risen from 12% to 45%. Second, all logistical support resources of the three services are integrated. All in-theater logistical support facilities such as rear depots, hospitals, recuperation centers, and material supply and engineering facilities, originally under the leadership and management of the services and arms, have been transferred to the joint logistics system for unified integration, construction, management and employment. Third, all logistical support mechanisms of the three services are integrated. The in-theater logistical support for troops of the three services is no longer categorized into general or special supply support. All supplies are planned and provided by the joint logistics system. Fourth, all logistical support channels of the three services are integrated. The multiple support channels for troops of the arms and services have been readjusted and integrated into one support channel of the joint logistics system, aiming at compressing the supply chain and improving efficiency to form an effective system of supervision and management.

Conducting technological research of logistical equipment. Over the past two years, the PLA has completed experiments to finalize the designs of 92 types of new logistical equipment, with the designs in logistical equipment system finalized at a rate of 93%. A new-generation logistical equipment system with all necessary specialized varieties has been basically established with some of the equipment reaching the internationally advanced standards. The Fourth Beijing International Exhibition on Military Logistical Equipment and Technology was held in April 2004. More than 340 manufacturers from 26 countries and regions took part in the exhibition, and military logistics delegations from 16 countries were invited to attend the exhibition as well as the international symposium on the development strategy of military logistical equipment and technology.

Deepening reforms of the medical support system and logistics outsourcing. In May 2004, the PLA started in an all-round way to carry out the reform of its medical support system based on pilot and expanded experiments. The reform features categorized support, appropriate medical care, unified management and treatment at designated hospitals, and treatment upon presentation of medical cards. The PLA has established a new type of medical support system in which medical service is free for servicemen, preferential for dependents accompanying officers, and available to civilian employees in the PLA through medical insurance. This has improved the quality of medical service and enhanced the capability of medical support. The PLA has adopted the management method of packaging wages for civilian employees and the policy of providing resettlement benefits to redundant personnel. It has also introduced in an all-round way such housing reform measures as monetization, market supply and management outsourcing, stepped up efforts to cash housing subsidies, and further enabled servicemen to purchase houses.

Innovating Political Work

The PLA takes as guidance Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of the "Three Represents," adheres to the fundamental principle and system of the Party's absolute leadership over the armed forces, puts ideological and political work first, innovates political work in its content, approaches, means as well as mechanism to give full play to the support and combat functions of political work.

In December 2003, the new Regulations on the Political Work of the Chinese People's Liberation Army was revised and promulgated. The regulation maintains that political work is the fundamental guarantee of the Party's absolute leadership over the armed forces and the assurance for the armed forces to accomplish their missions. It clearly defines political work as a significant component of combat capabilities of the PLA, and stresses the importance of giving full play to the combat function of political work. Education in the RMA with Chinese characteristics is given PLA-wide. Wartime political work is studied and rehearsed extensively. Political work is strengthened in all services and arms as well as the units carrying out special missions. Education in the PLA's functions and sense of urgency has been intensified in the PLA so that officers and men are motivated in their trainings and a tough fighting spirit and a good working style are fostered.

The PLA relies on laws and regulations to promote the innovation of political work. In April 2004, the CMC promulgated the Regulations on the Work of the Armed Forces Committees of the Communist Party of China (for Trial Implementation), which further defines the duties and responsibilities of the Party committees, the standing committees of the Party committees, secretaries and committee members, and further improves the decision-making procedures and principles in Party committees. In February 2004, the CMC released the Provisions on Strengthening the Education and Management of High- and Middle-Ranking Cadres of the PLA, which establishes and refines the systems for cadres at the regiment level and above to do self-study and review, to receive thematic education, to take admonishment talks, to make ideological and political assessment, to submit work and probity reports as well as reports on important work assignments.

The PLA attaches great importance to ideological and cultural work. In the period of 2000-2002, the CMC allocated RMB 140 million for the cultural work of grass-roots units. In recent two years, the General Political Department and the General Logistics Department have jointly issued a number of regulations in succession, including the Provisional Regulations of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on the Management of Cultural Equipment and the Provisional Regulations on Grass-Roots Cultural Construction. Beginning in 2003, the cultural equipment supplied to grass-roots units are covered by regularized outlays and managed as organic equipment. In May 2004 a PLA-wide forum on art and literature was held, in which a five-year plan was formulated for art and literature work in the military. The PLA publishes more than 2,800 titles of books and audio-visual products every year. All units carry out rich and colorful on-camp cultural activities to promote the all-round development and enhance combat capability.

Governing the Armed Forces Strictly and According to Law

The PLA implements the principle of governing the armed forces strictly and according to law, strengthens the building of the military legal system, raises the level of regularization, and enhances the combat capability of the armed forces.

The PLA has emphasized incorporating into laws and regulations its good traditions in governing the armed forces and the requirements of the RMA with Chinese characteristics, so as to regulate all dimensions of the armed forces building. In the new historical era, the PLA has promulgated and revised a large number of military regulations, including the Regulations on Routine Service of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on Discipline of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on Formation of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on the Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on the Political Work of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on the Logistics of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on the Armaments of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on the Military Training of the People's Liberation Army, Regulations on the Garrison Service of the People's Liberation Army, and a new generation of operations regulations. The military law system has been basically established with regulations as its main body. In April 2003, the CMC promulgated the Regulations on Military Rules and Regulations to regulate the military legislative work. In January 2004, according to the CMC's directive, the PLA and the People's Armed Police Forces (PAPF) proceeded to sort out in a comprehensive way all their current regulations and rules, and uniformly organize the compilation and printing of the collections of military regulations and rules so as to provide legal basis for strict governing of the armed forces. The armed forces have carried out legal education in a deep-going way and conducted regulation training courses at various levels to guide the officers and men to perform their duties in accordance with the law.

The PLA has maintained the authority and solemnity of the regulations and rules and administered troops strictly in accordance with the regulations and rules. Incorporating the cultivation of good style and strict discipline into routine military training and administration has helped to sharpen the awareness of the officers and men in their observance of regulations and rules. Through strict training, refined military bearing, strict discipline and resolute and swift work style have been cultivated among the troops. In August 2003, the CMC revised and issued the Outline for Armed Forces Building at the Grass-Roots Level, which has promoted the regularization of the orders in preparation against war, training, routine work and everyday life at the grass-roots level. The General Staff Headquarters, the General Political Department, the General Logistics Department and the General Armaments Department have twice formed joint working groups for overall inspection of strict administration of the troops. In accordance with the CMC requirements, the PLA and the PAPF have intensified rectification and improvement, and have further promoted the implementation of the guiding principle of governing the armed forces strictly and according to law.