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Full text: China's National Defense in 2010

03-31 15:35 Caijing

The Information Office of China's State Council on Thursday issued a white paper titled "China's National Defense in 2010".

III. Modernization of the People's Liberation Army

Over the 60 years and more since its founding, the PLA has made great achievements in its modernization. It has grown from a single service into a strong military force featuring a range of services and arms, and is now beginning to make progress towards informationization. In recent years, the PLA has enhanced its comprehensive development in accordance with the principle of integrating revolutionization, modernization and regularization, and continuously accelerated revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics.

History of the PLA's Modernization

Following the founding of the New China in 1949, the PLA set a general guideline and objective of building outstanding, modernized and revolutionary armed forces. It built the Navy, the Air Force and other technical arms, and developed mechanized weaponry and equipment, as well as nuclear weapons for the purpose of self-defense. It established regularized military rules, formed a system of institutional education, and strengthened ideological and political work. It carried out a series of reforms in military command, organization and structure, training, and regulations. The PLA began to develop from a primary to an advanced level in mastering modern military science and technologies.

Under the new historical conditions of reform and opening-up, the PLA embarked on a road of building a streamlined military with Chinese characteristics. As its guiding principle for military build-up underwent a strategic shift from preparations for imminent wars to peacetime construction, the PLA advanced its modernization step by step in a well-planned way under the precondition that such efforts should be both subordinate to and in the service of the country's overall development. The PLA underwent significant adjustment and reform in accordance with the principles of making itself streamlined, combined and efficient, downsized in scale, upgraded in quality, and boosted its capability of self-defense in modern conditions of warfare.

Adapting itself to new trends in world military development, the PLA, by following the general requirements of being qualified politically and competent militarily, and having a superior modus operandi, strict discipline, and reliable logistics support, strengthened its overall development, regarded revolution in military affairs with Chinese characteristics as the only way to modernize the military. By adopting a strategy of strengthening the military by means of science and technology, the PLA gradually shifted its focus from quantity and scale to quality and efficiency, from a manpower-intensive to a technology-intensive model. It laid down a three-step development strategy and adopted a step-change approach which takes mechanization as the foundation and informationization as the focus. It took preparations for military struggle as the driving force for its modernization, and enhanced its capability in defensive operations in conditions of informationization.

To meet the new and changing needs of national security, the PLA tries to accentuate modernization from a higher platform. It strengthens the building of a new type of combat capability to win local wars in conditions of informationization, strengthens the composite development of mechanization and informationization with the latter as the leading factor, focuses informationization on raising its fighting capabilities based on information systems, and enhances the capabilities in fire power, mobility, protection, support and informationization.

Building of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Second Artillery Force

In line with the strategic requirements of mobile operations and tri-dimensional offense and defense, the PLA Army (PLAA) has invested additional efforts in reform, innovation and development, and advanced the overall transformation of the service. The PLAA has emphasized the development of new types of combat forces, optimized its organization and structure, strengthened military training in conditions of informationization, accelerated the digitized upgrading and retrofitting of main battle weaponry, organically deployed new types of weapon platforms, and significantly boosted its capabilities in long-distance maneuvers and integrated assaults. The PLAA mobile operational units include 18 combined corps, plus additional independent combined operational divisions (brigades). The combined corps, consisting of divisions and brigades, are respectively under the seven military area commands of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

The PLAA has made great progress in strengthening its arms. The armored component has strengthened the development of digitized units, accelerated the mechanization of motorized units, and improved its combat system, which combines heavy, light, amphibious and air-borne assault forces. The artillery component has been working on new types of weapons, equipment, and ammunition with higher levels of informationization, forming an operational and tactical in-depth strike system, and developing the capacity to carry out precision operations with integrated reconnaissance, control, strike and assessment capabilities. The air defense component has stepped up the development of new types of radar, command information systems, and medium- and high-altitude ground-to-air missiles. It has formed a new interception system consisting of anti-aircraft artillery and missiles, and possesses enhanced capabilities of medium- and low-altitude air and missile defense operations. The PLAA aviation wing has worked to move from being a support force to being a main-battle assault force, further optimized its combat force structure, and conducted modularized grouping according to different tasks. It has upgraded armed helicopters, transport and service helicopters, and significantly improved its capabilities in air strike, force projection, and support. The engineering component has accelerated its transformation into a new model of integrated and multi-functional support force which is rapid in response and can be used both in peacetime and in war. It has also strengthened its special capabilities in emergency rescue and disaster relief. In this way, capabilities in integral combat support and military operations other than MOOTW missions have been further enhanced. The chemical defense component has worked to develop an integrated force for nuclear, biological and chemical defense which operates both in peacetime and in war, combines civilian and military efforts, and integrates systems from various arms and services. It has developed enhanced permanent, multi-dimensional and multi-terrain defense capabilities against nuclear, biological and chemical threats.

In line with the requirements of offshore defense strategy, the PLA Navy (PLAN) endeavors to accelerate the modernization of its integrated combat forces, enhances its capabilities in strategic deterrence and counterattack, and develops its capabilities in conducting operations in distant waters and in countering non-traditional security threats. It seeks to further improve its combat capabilities through regularized and systematic basic training and actual combat training in complex electromagnetic environments. By organizing naval vessels for drills in distant waters, it develops training models for MOOTW missions. New types of submarines, frigates, aircraft and large support vessels have been deployed as planned. The PLAN enhances the construction of composite support bases so as to build a shore-based support system which matches the deployment of forces and the development of weaponry and equipment. The Navy has accelerated the building of surface logistical platforms by deploying ambulance boats and helicopters, and a standard 10,000 DWT hospital ship, and is working to further improve its surface support capabilities. The Navy explores new methods of logistics support for sustaining long-time maritime missions. There are three fleets under the Navy, namely, the Beihai Fleet, the Donghai Fleet and the Nanhai Fleet, each of which has under its command fleet aviation, support bases, flotillas, maritime garrison commands, aviation divisions and marine brigades.

To satisfy the strategic requirements of conducting both offensive and defensive operations, the modernization and transformation of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) follows a carefully-structured plan. It strengthens and improves the PLAAF development and personnel development strategies, and enhances its research into the operation and transformation of air forces in conditions of informationization. The PLAAF is working to ensure the development of a combat force structure that focuses on air strikes, air and missile defense, and strategic projection, to improve its leadership and command system and build up an informationized, networked base support system. It conducts training on confrontation between systems in complex electromagnetic environments, and carries out maneuvers, drills and operational assembly training in different tactical contexts. The PLAAF strengthens routine combat readiness of air defenses, taking the defense of the capital as the center and the defense of coastal and border areas as the key. It has carried out MOOTWs, such as air security for major national events, emergency rescue and disaster relief, international rescue, and emergency airlift. It has gradually deployed airborne early warning and control aircraft, third-generation combat aircraft, and other advanced weaponry and equipment. The PLAAF has under it an air command in each of the seven military area commands of Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. It also has under its command an airborne corps. Under each air command at military area level are aviation divisions, ground-to-air missile divisions (brigades and regiments), anti-aircraft artillery brigades (regiments), radar brigades (regiments), electronic countermeasures (ECM) regiments (battalions), and other units. An aviation division has under its command aviation regiments and related stations.

Following the principle of building a lean and effective force, the PLA Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) strives to push forward its modernization and improves its capabilities in rapid reaction, penetration, precision strike, damage infliction, protection, and survivability, while steadily enhancing its capabilities in strategic deterrence and defensive operations. It continues to develop a military training system unique with the strategic missile force, improve the conditions of on-base, simulated and networked training, conduct trans-regional maneuvers and training with opposing forces in complex electromagnetic environments. It has set up laboratories for key disciplines, specialties and basic education, and successfully developed systems for automatic missile testing, operational and tactical command and control, strategic missile simulation training, and the support system for the survival of combatants in operational positions. It has worked to strengthen its safety systems, strictly implement safety regulations, and ensure the safety of missile weaponry and equipment, operational positions and other key elements. It has continued to maintain good safety records in nuclear weapon management. Through the years, the PLASAF has grown into a strategic force equipped with both nuclear and conventional missiles.

Accelerating Informationization

In line with its strategic objective of building informationized armed forces and winning informationized wars, and with overall planning and phased implementation, the PLA is trying to break through major bottlenecks which hinder the building and improvement of combat effectiveness of systems. The fighting capabilities of the armed forces in conditions of informationization have been significantly raised.

A step-change development has been achieved in information infrastructure. The total length of the national defense optical fiber communication network has increased by a large margin, forming a new generation information transmission network with optical fiber communication as the mainstay and satellite and short-wave communications as assistance.

Significant progress has been made in building information systems for reconnaissance and intelligence, command and control, and battlefield environment awareness. Information systems have been widely applied in logistics and equipment support. A preliminary level has been achieved in interoperability among command and control systems, combat forces, and support systems, making order transmission, intelligence distribution, command and guidance more efficient and rapid.

Strategic planning, leadership and management of informationization have been strengthened, and relevant laws, regulations, standards, policies and systems further improved. A range of measures, such as assembly training and long-distance education, have been taken to disseminate knowledge on information and skills in applying it. Notable achievements have been made in the training of commanding officers for joint operations, management personnel for informationization, personnel specialized in information technology, and personnel for the operation and maintenance of new equipment. The complement of new-mode and high-caliber military personnel who can meet the needs of informationization has been steadily enlarged.

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