PLA ground forces and the challenge of a rising China.
Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016
US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States
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This monograph aims at sharpening the US Armys thinking about Chinese military threats and informing future research efforts that explore contingencies against the Peoples Liberation Army PLA in the land domain. By looking at the interrelated factors of doctrine, personnel quality, force structure, and technological capability, it contributes to a deeper understanding of the PLA and how its ground forces have prepared to fight high-tech wars beyond Chinas periphery. The pace and extent of Chinas rise have been unsettling for the United States, which has viewed its relations with Beijing through the lenses of cooperation and competition. This monograph provides context on the latter. Driven by a renewed sense of destiny supported by growing power, China is no longer amenable to playing strictly by Americas rules, especially close to home. While pursuing its own ambitions, China has contributed to escalating regional tensions and has challenged the US-led international order. The shape and scale of its military modernization suggest the means by which this challenge might come. Chinas quest through asymmetric weapons to undermine what it perceives as US hegemony has been paired by a parallel effort to imitate and match US military power, notably in deterrent and power-projection capabilities. After an overview of PLA ground forces and their course of reform since the 1950s, this monograph discusses the implications of the far-reaching set of reforms announced in late 2015. Under Mao Zedongs rule, the influential doctrine of peoples war remained relatively unchanged, its persistence serving, along with the PLAs focus on maintaining domestic order, as a rationale for delaying modernization. During the 1980s and 1990s, the PLA gradually adapted peoples war to modern conditions as its leaders shifted their attention to winning local, limited wars.