IV. The People's Liberation Army
To effectively fulfill its historic mission in the new stage of the new century, the PLA is speeding up the revolution in military affairs with Chinese features and enhancing in an all-round way its capabilities of defensive operations under conditions of informationization.
In 1985, 1997 and 2003, China announced that it would cut the size of the PLA by one million, 500,000 and 200,000 persons, respectively. By the end of 2005, China had completed reducing the PLA by 200,000 troops, and the PLA currently has 2.3 million troops. The PLA has made new progress towards the goal of being proper in size, optimal in structure, streamlined in organization, swift and flexible in command, and powerful in fighting capacity.
Downsizing the PLA. The Army was the focus of force reduction, and its authorized number of personnel has been reduced by more than 130,000. Over 60,000 military personnel have been removed from the headquarters and directly affiliated units of military area commands and provincial military commands. Through restructuring, the proportion of the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force in the PLA has been raised by 3.8 percent while that of the Army has been lowered by 1.5 percent.
Streamlining the headquarters and directly affiliated units as well as educational institutions. More than 3,000 departments of and over 400 units directly affiliated to the headquarters at and above the regimental level have been cut. A considerable number of agricultural and sideline production units, cultural and sports units, military representative offices at railway stations and material supply organs have been closed. The PLA has also closed 15 educational institutions and 31 training organizations.
Improving the structure of services and arms. The Army has cut a number of combined corps, divisions and regiments, increased the number of combined corps whose order of battle is corps, brigade and battalion, and set up units with new and high-tech weaponry and equipment. The Navy and Air Force have cut some ship groups and aviation divisions, regiments and stations, and set up some high-tech surface ship, aviation and ground-to-air missile units. A number of reserve infantry divisions have been dismantled, but the number of divisions (brigades) of other arms has increased.
Reforming the leadership and command system. The leadership and command system of the general headquarters/departments has been enhanced through adjusting the functions of relevant departments and improving joint operational command. The Navy has cut the naval aviation department and converted naval bases into support ones. The Air Force has closed corps (base) headquarters and set up regional command posts. Following these adjustments, the combat troops of the Navy and Air Force are now directly under the fleets and the air commands of the military areas, respectively.
Deepening the reform of the joint logistical support system. The joint logistical support system, based on military area commands, has been expanded, and overlapping support organizations reduced. Apart from special-purpose depots and general hospitals under the general headquarters/departments, the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force, all the other rear depots, hospitals and recuperation centers have been integrated and reorganized into the joint logistical support system. A total of eight joint logistical sub-departments (offices), 94 rear depots, and 47 hospitals and recuperation centers have been closed.
Improving the ratio between officers and men. The PLA has reduced the number of its officers by 170,000. More than 150 officer posts at or above the corps level have been eliminated, nearly 70,000 posts formerly taken by officers are now filled with non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and over 20,000 posts formerly taken by NCOs are now filled with contract civilians.
Development of the Services and Arms
The Army is speeding up the upgrading and informationization of its active main battle equipment to build a new type of ground combat force which is lean, combined, agile and multi-functional. Priority is given to building Army aviation, light mechanized and information countermeasures units. The share of the armored component in the Army combined combat forces has been further raised. The artillery and air defense component has fielded new types of cannons, field antiaircraft missiles, reconnaissance early warning radars, fire-control systems, and intelligence and command systems, and increased the proportion of ground-to-air missiles to antiaircraft guns. The engineering component has grown in step with the main combat arms, and improved its capabilities of accompanying support and precision support. The anti-chemical component has established a preliminary nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) protection system tailored to joint operations, and greatly increased its capabilities of rapid NBC protection, NBC emergency rescue and operations against NBC terrorism. The communications component has enhanced the building of platforms for general-purpose information transmission and processing, C2 systems and spectrum management systems, and raised communications and information support capabilities.
Founded in 1986, the Army aviation arm has a three-level (general headquarters/departments, theaters of war and first-line task groups) administration system. Equipped mainly with armed helicopters, transport helicopters and service helicopters, it carries out air strike, air landing, airlifting and battlefield service support operations. The Army aviation arm works to strengthen its capabilities of rapid power projection, precision strike, long-range assault and support.
The Navy is working to build itself into a modern maritime force of operation consisting of combined arms with both nuclear and conventional means of operations. Taking informationization as the goal and strategic focus in its modernization drive, the Navy gives high priority to the development of maritime information systems, and new-generation weaponry and equipment. Efforts are being made to improve maritime battlefield capabilities, with emphasis on the construction of relevant facilities for new equipment and the development of combat support capabilities. The Navy is endeavoring to build mobile maritime troops capable of conducting operations under conditions of informationization, and strengthen its overall capabilities of operations in coastal waters, joint operations and integrated maritime support. Efforts are being made to improve and reform training programs and methods to intensify training in joint integrated maritime operations. The Navy is enhancing research into the theory of naval operations and exploring the strategy and tactics of maritime people's war under modern conditions.
The Air Force is working to build an informationized air fighting force with both offensive and defensive capabilities. It is reducing the number of combat aircraft, giving priority to the development of new fighters as well as air and missile defense weapons. It is working to enhance command and control systems. It stresses mission-oriented and confrontational training, increasing combined tactical training of different arms and aircraft types, and conducts training in flying refitted new aircraft and using new weaponry and equipment in an active and stable way. Air Force pilot training is conducted at flying colleges, training bases and combat units in five phases, namely, basic education, primary flying, advanced flying, refitted combat aircraft flying and tactical flying. Aviation units mainly conduct training in counter-air operations, air-to-ground attacks and joint operations. Pilots fly training hours are commensurate with the tasks assigned to pilots.
The Second Artillery Force is striving to build a streamlined and effective strategic force with both nuclear and conventional capabilities. It is quickening its steps to raise the informationization level of its weaponry and equipment systems, build an agile and efficient operational command and control system, and increase its capabilities of land-based strategic nuclear counterstrikes and precision strikes with conventional missiles. It is improving the construction of its battlefield system, and associated logistics and equipment, and raising the cost-effectiveness of integrated support. It is deepening the reform of training, enhancing integrated training, using scientific and technological achievements to raise training quality. It is strengthening the safety management and control mechanism of nuclear missiles, and improving the relevant rules and regulations and technical preventive measures as well as emergency steps for handling nuclear accidents. The Second Artillery Force is equipped with surface-to-surface strategic missiles and tactical operational missiles of various types.
The PLA regards military training as a basic means to raise its combat effectiveness in peacetime, as well as an important method to foster and administer troops. It takes vigorous steps to accelerate the transition from military training under conditions of mechanization to military training under conditions of informationization. At the PLA-wide military training conference held in June 2006, the General Staff Headquarters put forward a comprehensive plan for carrying out military training in a creative way for the new stage in the new century. It called on all PLA troops to set high and strict standards, base their training on actual combat, use scientific and technological means in training, advance the reform of training, and elevate military training to a higher level.
The PLA conducts training in strict accordance with the requirements for winning local wars under conditions of informationization. It conducts basic technical and tactical training, combined tactical training, and strategic and operational training. The PLA conducts training and integration to boost its combat capabilities level by level. It conducts training with live ammunition and holds exercises with opposing players in a realistic manner to temper troops in near-real-war environment. The PLA conducts training by scientific and technological means, employs modern training methods and means, and develops on-base, simulated and networked training. It is increasing the use of scientific and technological means with focus on improving the quality and effect of training.
The PLA focuses on enhancing joint training to improve the integrated joint operational capabilities of various services and arms. It gives priority to the training of joint campaign commanders and command organs, joint field exercises and the training of different support forces in integrated support. It works to enhance the commanding and organizing capabilities of strategic and operational commanders and command organs, and the joint operational capabilities of the services and arms. Keeping in mind the future informationized battlefield, the PLA closely follows the emerging trend of integrated joint operations, conducts integrated training in an innovative way, and actively explores training approaches for the internal integration of fighting units, systems integration of fighting elements and comprehensive integration of fighting systems.
The PLA conducts training in strict accordance with pre-set plans, and is strengthening the scientific management of the overall processes and all the aspects of training. It is exploring new modes for organizing and managing training under conditions of informationization, and intensifying precise and mission-oriented management according to law to keep training processes standardized. It is improving training procedures, making strict training assessments, and setting and improving training standards to meet the requirements of informationized operations. Priority is given to the training of command organs and collective training. The PLA uses live-ammunition exercises and means such as exercise assessment systems for a comprehensive evaluation of the training and combat capabilities of the troops.
The basic tasks of the PLA's political work are as follows: ensuring the success of the reform and opening-up of the country and the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, as well as promoting the socialist modernization; advancing the revolution in military affairs with Chinese features, as well as the revolutionization, modernization and regularization of the PLA; guaranteeing --politically, ideologically and organizationally -- the nature of the people's army under the absolute leadership of the Party; upholding the PLA's socialist ethical standards, the goal of which is to cultivate military personnel with lofty ideals, high moral standards, a wide range of knowledge and a keen sense of discipline; ensuring the PLA's internal unity, unity between the PLA and the government, and unity between the PLA and the people; and ensuring the PLA's combat effectiveness and the accomplishment of the PLA's tasks.
In the long years of fighting revolutionary wars and seeking modernization, a fine tradition of democracy has taken root and a complete democratic system has developed within the PLA. The conference of servicemen's representatives at the levels of the brigade and regiment is part of this democratic system, which ensures the practice of democracy and the right of servicemen to exercise their democratic rights and participate in troop management. The conference of servicemen's representatives is mainly tasked with reviewing the work reports of their commanders, supervising their units' compliance with and implementation of regulations, orders and directives from the above, voicing servicemen's opinions, raising demands on their behalf and monitoring the use of funds in their units. Guided by Party committees and political organs at the same level, units at the levels of brigade and regiment hold annual conferences of servicemen's representatives. The representatives are selected through bottom-up democratic elections from among active servicemen and employees on the PLA payroll. Led by Party branches or grass-roots Party committees and directed by military and political chiefs, the servicemen's committee is an organization through which companies and company-level units practice democracy in political, economic and military affairs, ensure servicemen's democratic rights and conduct servicemen's activities.
The PLA conducts political work in a creative way to raise the overall performance of its officers and men. The PLA educates its officers and men in its historic mission, ideals, beliefs, fighting spirit, and the socialist concept of honor and disgrace, to raise mission awareness, foster revolutionary ideals, strengthen the will to fight, draw a clear line between right and wrong, and arouse enthusiasm for training. The PLA conducts psychological training and studies on psychological operations, and has in place a mechanism involving both political and medical institutions to provide psychological education, catharsis and health service. The CMC and the general headquarters/departments have formulated a series of policies and regulations to strengthen the building of grass-roots units. Most of the commanding organs at and above the regiment level have mechanisms to coordinate grass-roots work. In the course of implementing the Outline for Armed Forces Building at the Grass-Roots Level, a large number of advanced grass-roots units and excellent soldiers have come to the fore.
To ensure the cost-effectiveness of logistical support, the PLA is enhancing the management and reform of logistical support in an effort to build a modern logistics system.
Upgrading logistics management. The PLA is speeding up the formulation of logistical rules, regulations and standards to establish a standardized system covering supply, consumption and management. During the period of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2001-2005) (hereinafter referred to as the Tenth Five-Year Plan), the PLA conducted a comprehensive review of its logistical regulations and standards. Over 200 standards were adopted or revised, and more than 240 regulations were enacted. During the period of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2006-2010) (hereinafter referred to as the Eleventh Five-Year Plan), the PLA is giving priority to standardizing logistical supply and establishing a mechanism for the dynamic adjustment of supply and support standards. It is strengthening the management of logistics and ensuring the overall sound implementation of the military budget. In addition, it is enforcing financial and economic discipline through strict auditing supervision.
Improving the material life conditions of the officers and men. The PLA has adopted the practice of serving separate portions of food to improve hygienic conditions. Some organic battalions have begun to provide battalion-based food service. Board expenses of enlisted men have been increased substantially since January 1, 2005, and now the food supply for officers and men aims at providing sufficient nutrition rather than just serving enough food. From July 1, 2006, the salaries for service people have been increased by a wide margin. The PLA has issued new types of uniforms to the enlisted and Air Force officers and men, new types of special-purpose fatigue clothing to troops other than those of the Army, and new types of plateau cold-proof uniforms to some troops stationed in Xinjiang and Tibet.
Steadily advancing logistics reform. Adhering to the principles of the incorporation of tri-service components into joint logistical organs, joint management and employment of support entities, and unified organization of supply and support, the PLA is conducting experimental reforms in joint logistics in the Jinan Theatre. This marks an important step towards the goal of building an integrated tri-service logistical support system. It involves comprehensive efforts to expand the reform of the centralized payment system to establish a support mode of fund settlement with single financial accounts as the basis and centralized payment as the main form. The reform of the military medical support system is being smoothly carried out, with priority given to ensuring the medical care of military personnel. Over 70 percent of the PLA's employees are covered by the social medical insurance system. The housing system reform has made progress, and a housing system for military personnel has taken shape which combines military support with social support, government houses with self-owned houses, and supply in kind with supply in money.
In October 2004, the General Staff Headquarters, General Political Department and General Logistics Department jointly issued the Circular on Further Promoting the Reform of Military Materials Procurement under the Corps Level. The PLA has basically established a three-level (logistical organs of the general headquarters/departments, major units, and units) materials procurement and management system and a system of centralized procurement. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the PLA's centralized procurement reached RMB 45 billion, enabling it to save RMB 3.15 billion and spend 7 percent less on average.
With the backing of China's economic development and scientific and technological achievements, the PLA is accelerating its weaponry and equipment modernization drive mainly by relying on its own efforts.
Planning long-term weaponry and equipment development in a scientific way. Based on the military strategic guidelines of the new era and the outline for the building and development of the military, the PLA is making efforts to correctly handle the relationship between the needs of equipment development and the availability of funds. As required by comprehensive integration of the Army, Navy and Air Force, joint operation and systems building, the PLA has conducted studies and feasibility assessments of its weaponry and equipment development strategy, adopted the outline and the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for weaponry and equipment development, and set the direction, goals and priorities of its future weaponry and equipment development.
Enhancing the capability of independent weaponry and equipment innovation. The PLA is strengthening applied and basic research as well as research on key defense technologies, ensuring the application of technological achievements and raising its capabilities of original innovation, integrated innovation, and innovation through digesting and absorbing introduced technologies. It is improving the innovation mechanism for defense-related science and technology, and weaponry and equipment to support the independent, leapfrogging and sustainable development of new and high-tech weaponry and equipment.
Optimizing the system of weaponry and equipment. The PLA gives priority to developing new types of equipment which are advanced and reliable in technical performance, and effective in operations. It is speeding up the development of integrated electronic information systems, enhancing the comprehensive integration of various types of weapon systems and support systems, and facilitating information sharing and fusion. The PLA is accelerating the retirement of redundant equipment, carrying out the prioritized, selective and phased retrofitting of equipment and informationization of equipment on active service, and tapping the potential of existing equipment. It is strengthening the systematic development of equipment to form a complete system of equipment, weaponry and equipment support.
Increasing the capability of integrated equipment support. The PLA is strict with equipment management and carries out scientific, institutionalized and regular evaluation on such management in order to maintain and improve the operability of existing equipment. The PLA has established and improved mechanisms for integrated civilian-military equipment support. It is developing new and high maintenance technologies, widening their application and enhancing the capabilities of equipment maintenance, emergency rescue and repair, and remote technical support. It is strengthening equipment support force building, equipment support training, pre-field training and training of qualified equipment personnel, to promote the organic and systematic development of operational and support capabilities of equipment.
Actively advancing the reform of the equipment procurement system. In December 2005, the CMC approved and issued the Opinions on Some Issues Concerning the Deepening of the Equipment Procurement System Reform. In the past two years, the General Armaments Department has improved the review and approval of equipment procurement modes, and gradually enlarged the scope of competitive procurement, raising the percentage of funds for such procurement from 10 percent to 20 percent. The General Armaments Department has strengthened the management of the centralized procurement of equipment of the same kind for the whole PLA, formulated related rules, regulations and standards, and substantially increased the quantities and varieties of equipment procured in a centralized way, saving eight percent of the planned funds and greatly improving the efficiency of fund use.
During the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the Standing Committee of the NPC, the State Council and the CMC, exercising their prescribed functions and powers, formulated and revised 99 military laws and regulations. The general headquarters/departments, military area commands, Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force formulated and revised nearly 900 military rules and regulations. In 2006, the CMC began to implement its law-making program for the Eleventh Five-Year Plan period. In a period of five years, a military legal system will take shape which covers multiple aspects, and is coherent, scientific, closely knit and well-designed.
As military courts exercise the function of civil trial within the military, military procuratorates have begun to conduct civil prosecution on a trial basis and supervise civil trials in the military in accordance with the law. In line with the regulations on the people's supervisory system practiced by civil procuratorates, military procuratorates have started to introduce, on a trial basis, a system of servicemen's supervisors to strengthen supervision over investigation of misconduct on duty. In conformity with the requirements of the state's procedural law, a new servicemen's jury system has been established, which specifies the selection of jury members and the procedure for the performance of their duties. In keeping with the state's judicial system, the PLA has instituted a specialized rank system for military judges and procurators which consists of 11 grades at three levels. This has enhanced the professional performance of the military judicial personnel.
In recent years, based on the experience gained from appointing military lawyers at the three levels of combined corps, division and brigade in the Army, units at and above the brigade level in the Second Artillery Force have also started to be staffed with military lawyers. The General Armaments Department and the Navy have set up professional legal advisory offices concerning national defense patents and maritime issues. Military lawyers have played an active role in providing support to commanding officers and organs in decision-making, defending defendants in criminal trials, and undertaking civil cases to protect the legitimate rights and interests of military units and personnel.
Under the unified leadership of the CMC, the PLA institutional education is managed at two levels: by the general headquarters/departments and by the military area commands (Navy, Air Force or Second Artillery Force). The four general headquarters/departments provide overall guidance for all PLA educational institutions, and the General Staff Headquarters administers military education. The development goal of military educational institutions is to establish and improve a new school system with distinct military features to shift priority from education of officer candidates for academic credentials to pre-assignment education. The new system takes pre-assignment educational institutions as the main form, and makes a distinction between these two types of education. The PLA has 67 military educational institutions, which are divided into two types: those for academic credentials and those for pre-assignment education. The former offers undergraduate education for pre-commission officers and graduate education for officers. The latter consists of elementary, intermediate and advanced level institutions and NCO schools, and offers pre-assignment training and rotational training for active-duty officers and NCOs. Some pre-assignment educational institutions also offer graduate courses in military science. At the same time, 112 regular institutions of higher learning in China undertake the task of training defense students, thus gradually increasing the number of military officers trained in civilian educational institutions.
The PLA endeavors to improve the overall performance of military educational institutions through focused and coordinated development. It has launched a project for establishing key military colleges and schools in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan period. It continues to focus efforts on building a number of institutions and research centers for disciplines and specialties that are important in building an informationized military and winning informationized wars. A new round of reform in teaching is underway to improve the training target mod els for officers in different fields and at different levels, and to develop new programs and curricula for the training of military personnel. The PLA is also improving the information network for military training, and has built more virtual laboratories, digital libraries and digital campuses to provide distance learning and online teaching and training. In graduate education, the focus is shifted from academic-oriented to practice-oriented, from emphasis on quantity to emphasis on quality, and from a relatively closed-door approach to a more open and diversified approach. The PLA now has 41 educational institutions authorized to award doctor's degrees and 60 to award master's degrees.
Management System of Military Cadres
In 2005, the PLA began to reform the evaluation, selection and appointment system for military cadres, and to institute a system to evaluate commanding officers. It conducts both evaluation and examination in selecting leading officers at the level of deputy regimental commanders for combat troops. It has improved the regulations on reserve cadres, and works to establish a long-term mechanism to select and train outstanding young cadres. In March 2006, with the approval of the CMC, the four general headquarters/departments jointly promulgated the Provisions of the PLA on Rewarding Technical Experts, which gives awards and allowances to military technical experts.
In June 2005, the State Council and the CMC promulgated the Regulations of the PLA on Contract Civilians, deciding to introduce a system of employing contract civilians to fill some support posts in the military, so that active-duty officers, who are limited in number, mainly take up command and combat posts. The regulations contain specific provisions on the nature and status of contract civilians, the procedures of their employment, and the coordination of the civil and military authorities' relevant policies. In 2006, the PLA started the employment of contract civilians.
Officers and non-commissioned officers transferred to civilian work are resettled in one of the following two ways: state-planned job assignment, and finding jobs by themselves. The State Council has an office for overseeing the nationwide resettlement of such officers. The provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government) have corresponding offices for resettling such officers in their respective administrative areas. The General Political Department is in charge of PLA-wide transfer of officers and non-commissioned officers to civilian work, and Party committees and political organs at and above the regiment level are responsible for transferring officers to civilian work in their own units. The provincial military commands (garrison commands at the same level) are responsible for turning over PLA officers and non-commissioned officers transferred to civilian work in their respective provinces, autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government. In 2005, the state and the PLA began to deepen the reform and adjustment of the policies on resettling officers and non-commissioned officers transferred to civilian work.
The PLA attaches great importance to mass work, taking supporting the government and loving the people as its major thrust. The political organs of the four general headquarters/departments and the military area commands, the Navy, Air Force and Second Artillery Force all have offices for mass work. The political organs of corps, divisions (brigades) and regiments also have special officers in charge of such work. These offices and officers are responsible for maintaining contacts and coordination with governments at all levels. Education in supporting the government and loving the people is conducted PLA-wide. The PLA participates in national economic development, emergency rescue and disaster relief, and public welfare activities.
In the past two years, the engineering troops of the Army, Navy and Air Force have taken part in more than 430 key construction projects for transportation, hydropower, communication and energy infrastructure. The PLA has assisted in building new socialist villages in the countryside, and provided regular assistance to poor farmers in more than 19,000 villages. It has helped build over 48,000 small public projects such as water-saving irrigation projects, drinking water projects for both people and livestock, roads, and hydropower projects, bringing immediate benefits to nearly 800,000 people. In addition, it has helped build or enlarge 211 primary and secondary schools, enabling 142,000 school dropouts to return to class. PLA troops stationed in China's western region have taken part in such ecological engineering projects as the construction of shelterbelts and the improvement of small drainage areas. They have planted 210 million trees and sown grass on more than 13 million sq m of land. PLA hospitals have established regular assistance relations with more than 400 county or township hospitals in the western region. They have helped train key members of the medical staff, made rounds of visits offering free medical consultation and treatment, and donated medical equipment and medicine. The PLA and PAPF have dispatched over 340,000 troops to take part in more than 2,800 emergency rescue and disaster-relief operations, involving more than 40,000 vehicles, flown more than 2,000 sorties (including the use of helicopters), evacuated over 3.4 million people and prevented economic losses of several billion yuan. At the end of 2006, the PLA donated 230 million yuan and over 930,000 cotton-padded clothes and quilts to disaster- and poverty-stricken areas.
In June 2005, the State Council and the CMC promulgated the Regulations on Participation of the PLA in Emergency Rescue and Disaster Relief, prescribing the PLA's main tasks, coordination with local people's governments, limits of authority and procedures for employing troops, joint command with local authorities, preparations and readiness, financial and material support, etc., for such operations.