38th Army (People's Republic of China)

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38th Group Army
Active 1949-
Country  China
Part of Beijing Military Region
Garrison/HQ Baoding
Nickname Ten Thousand Years Army
Long-Lived Group Army
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Wang Xixin

The 38th Army (Chinese: 第38集团军) is a military formation of China's People's Liberation Army and one of three active group armies belonging to the Beijing Military Region. It is based at Baoding, Hebei and is composed of an armored division, two mechanized infantry divisions, an artillery brigade, a mechanized air defense brigade and an aviation regiment in addition to various support and logistics units. Its unit ID number is 66393.

Chinese Civil War[edit]

The unit was originally established as the 38th Corps under the Fourth Field Army in early 1949. The 38th can trace its lineage back to the late 1920s thru its evolution from the 343rd Brigade. In 1949 the 38th Corps was composed of the 112th, 113th, and 114th Divisions.[1] Under Lin Biao in mid-June 1949, the 38th took part in the campaign to take Southern China and encircled Yichang, Hubei and seized the city.

Korean War[edit]

The 38th, the 40th and the 42nd Corps (the finest of the IV Army Group) along with the 27th and the 39th Corps from South China were placed at Peng Dehuai's disposal as part of the People's Volunteer Army (Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) or Chinese Communist Forces (CCF)) XIII Army Group, for the initial Chinese intervention in Korea.[2]

The 38th Corps and the 42nd Corps poured through the broken South Korean lines to Eighth Army’s east and threatening to envelop the entire force.[3] The 38th Corps was ultimately successful in setting up the "Gauntlet" against the US 2nd Infantry Division at Kunu-ri, and for its performance it received the title "Ten thousand years Army" (万岁军).

The formation opposed the Turkish Brigade at the Battle of Wawon on November 27–29, 1950, and the U.S. 45th Infantry Division during the Battle of Old Baldy.

On October 6–15, 1952, the 38th Corps fought in the battle for Baengma-goji, a 395-meter hill near the Iron Triangle. During the course of the battle, the hill changed hands 24 times after repeated attacks and counterattackss for its possession. It was the most intense position-grasping battle for a small hill during the course of the Korean War. The 112th and 114th Divisions under the command of General Gang Ong-hwi were selected as the main force to capture Baengma-goji, and the 113th Division was to replenish the losses of the main force. The 38th Army committed seven regiments out of its total of nine regiments and sustained a total of 14,332 casualties (8,234 identified deaths, 5,097 presumed deaths, 1,001 wounded, and 57 prisoners, while the 9th Division of South Korea suffered a total of 3,422 casualties (505 dead, 2,562 injured and 391 missing), plus over 400 more casualties in the 1st Battalion of the 30th Regiment. The American Fifth Air Force made a total of 745 sorties and poured more than 2,700 bombs of various kinds, together with over 358 napalm bombs, onto the hill. Chinese forces rained no less than 55,000 shells during the nine-day battle period, and the South Korean forces fired over 185,000 bombs. The 38th Corps, after having been replaced by the 23rd Corps, had to withdraw to the rear.[4]

Cultural Revolution[edit]

The 38th Corps returned to China in 1953, remaining in Manchuria to reinforce the Fourth Field Army. In 1967, during the Cultural Revolution, the 38th was relocated to the Hebei area to replace the 65th Corps. In 1968 the 38th was involved in clashes with elements of the Hebei Military District over differences in revolutionary fervor. The 38th Corps reformed into 38th Army in 1985.

Tiananmen Square Protests[edit]

In 1989 during the students' protest, the 38th Army was one of the main units ordered to crush the protests and impose martial law on Beijing. However, because of its close connections with the population of the nearby capital, and the fact that many students had served in the unit before attending university and that some students had performed summer training with the 38th as members of the army reserve, the unit was reluctant to comply.[5] The 38th, under the command of General Xu Qinxian (徐勤先), refused to use force against the students when martial law was declared, and was reported to have been in a tense stand-off with the 27th Army and other units which held the city in the days immediately following the bloody crackdown, giving rise to fears of a civil war.[6]

Twenty-First Century[edit]

The 38th Group Army is currently one of the three group armies belonging to the Beijing Military Region.[7] It is one of the best equipped and trained group armies in China today, and is given the task of guarding the national capital of Beijing. It also serves as a testbed for the latest equipment and doctrines developed by the PLA.

An unidentified mechanized division (probably from the 38th Group Army) conducted an opposed force exercise in mid-August 2002. It is believed that the exercise may have taken place at the MR CAT Base near the Great Wall. The unit used more than ten new systems including new mine clearing vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and tanks. The unit is reported to be one of the first mechanized infantry divisions in the PLA.[8]

According to the December 2002 PLA Activities Report, the Mechanized Air Defense Brigade (Unit 66440) assigned to the 38th Group Army recently improved its tactics and methods of defending against cruise missile attacks. This consisted of improving the units fire-control systems and detection capabilities.

The Mechanized Air Defense Brigade, Unit 66440, has reportedly retrofitted its field command modules to provide command platforms with geographic information, air service information, battlefield monitoring and digital transmission, enhancing the units command and control capability and ability to conduct accurate air defense. The unit conducted several exercises in 2002 including a live-fire exercise.[9]

Over the course of the 2003 reductions cycle, Dennis Blasko estimates that the 114th Mechanised Infantry Division was dropped from the force.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Appleman, Roy E. "South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu", pg 768
  2. ^ Who was Peng Dehuai?
  3. ^ The Korean War: The Chinese Intervention, pg 12
  4. ^ Baengma-goji Battle
  5. ^ Bernard E. Trainor. “Crackdown in Beijing: A Huge, Troubled Army” The New York Times, June 06, 1989. http://query.nytimes.com (accessed November 21, 2010).
  6. ^ Bernard E. Trainor. “Turmoil in China; Legions of Soldiers Encircling Beijing: Loyalty to Whom?” The New York Times, June 07, 1989. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/07/world/turmoil-in-china-legions-of-soldiers-encircling-beijing-loyalty-to-whom.html?scp=1&sq=Turmoil%20in%20China;%20Legions%20of%20Soldiers%20Encircling%20Beijing:%20Loyalty%20to%20Whom&st=cse (accessed February 17, 2011).
  7. ^ PLA Ground Forces
  8. ^ Liberation Army Daily 6 Sep 2002 (PLA Activities Report Sep 2002)
  9. ^ Beijing MR Zhanyou Bao 11 Jan 2003 (PLA Activities Report Jan 2003)
  10. ^ Blasko 2006, 77