China has decided to send additional 1,600 military officers in the next few years for postgraduate education at 29 universities and colleges, including the prestigious Tsinghua University and Peking University.
The decision was made by the Ministry of Education and the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently to produce high-caliber officers for the modernization drive of China's armed forces.
The move constitutes part of a program launched by the ministry and the armed forces in 2001. Nearly 3,000 military officers have since been trained at selected non-military institutions of higher learning.
During a meeting of PLA delegates on postgraduate education earlier this week, Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan said the armed forces have brought forth more than 4,100 graduates with doctorate degrees and over 22,500 graduates with master's degree since 1992.
According to a decision made at the meeting, PLA will further improve postgraduate education for its military officers by increasing the proportion of the contents on military sciences and giving priority to engineering courses closely related to new, high-tech weapons and equipment and information technology.
Liang Guanglie, chief of the PLA general staff, told the meeting that more substantial efforts are needed to step up postgraduate education in military specialties, and train more and more postgraduates for front-line troops.
He called for a new mechanism to be worked out for training military professionals through both military academies and non-military institutions of higher education, and attract and retain professionals.
According to an article in the latest edition of Outlook newsweekly, PLA's massive training program was made after the military summed up the changing military development trends, citing the examples of wars in the Gulf region and Kosovo in the 1990s and the war between Iran and Iraq in 1980s.
Western military officers, including those from the Untied States, Britain, France and Japan, are well-educated and better trained with expertise in sophisticated weaponry, it said.
During the Iraq-Iran war, approximately 50 modern Iraqi warplanes, mostly imported from the Western developed nations, were shot down in the first few days of the war, and 30 of them were downed mistakenly by their own ground troops.
What making matters even worse, according to the article, the ground troops of both countries did not know much about how to use and operate some sophisticated imported tanks during the war.
The decisive factor in high-tech wars, however, still lies in men, the article acknowledged.
Without well-trained soldiers, nevertheless, "it is impossible to win a war with advanced weaponry and equipment," said the article.
(Xinhua News Agency September 30, 2003)