2015 People's Republic of China military reform
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The first wave of the recent People's Republic of China military reform was announced in November 2015 at a plenary session of the Central Leading Group for Military Reform of the Central Military Commission.
In January 2014, Chinese senior military officers said that the PLA was planning to reduce the number of military regions from seven to five "Theater Command" to have joint command with ground, naval, air and rocket forces. This is planned to change their concept of operations from primarily ground-oriented defense to mobile and coordinated movement of all services and to enhance offensive air and naval capabilities into the East China Sea. The coastal Jinan, Nanjing, and Guangzhou regions will be turned into three military areas, each with a joint operations command, for projecting power into the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea. The four other inland military regions will be streamlined into two military areas mainly for organizing forces for operations. The change is to occur over the next five years.
The South China Morning Post reported in December 2015 that the '..Central Military Commission, chaired by Xi, would scrap three of the four army headquarters: the General Political department, General Logistics and General Armaments. Only the General Staff Department will remain.
The plans '.. consolidate the seven regional commands into five units and to reorganise the four army headquarters. The most striking features of the proposals for the five new Theater Command are a vast new West zone that makes up more than half the country (merging the Lanzhou Military Region and the Chengdu Military Region) and a larger North zone that will concentrate on Mongolia, the Russian Far East and the Korean peninsula. The new five strategic areas, also referred to as combat zones, could be up and running as early as January 1.
Sources said plans were nearing completion for the new West zone – by far the largest of the five – to include more than a third of the nation’s land-based military forces. The area is home to only 22 per cent of the country’s population, many from the ethnic minorities groups and non-Han Chinese. “The West combat zone will concentrate on threats in Xinjiang (新疆) and Tibet and other minority areas, close to Afghanistan and other states that are home to training bases for separatists, terrorists and extremists,” one of the sources said. Another source close to the army said the proposal had been revised in recent weeks to move the West zone headquarters to Ürümqi instead of Chengdu or Lanzhou.
Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, announced in September the PLA would be cut by 300,000 troops to 2 million by 2017. Sources said up to 70 per cent of forces axed would be officers in land-based units.
A source in Jinan (濟南) said that so far it had been confirmed that the 13 army groups based in the current Beijing, Shenyang (瀋陽), Nanjing (南京) and Guangzhou military commands would be kept.'
- Minnie Chan (November 24, 2015). "China hits the launch button for massive PLA shake-up to create a modern, nimble force". South China Morning Post.
- Ben Blanchard (November 27, 2015). "China's army to get more prominent role in military reform". Reuters.
- Dingding Chen (December 1, 2015). "Take Notice, Asia: China's Military Is Getting Leaner and More Lethal". The Diplomat.
- Mu Chunshan (December 5, 2015). "The Logic Behind China's Military Reforms". The Diplomat.
- "China Takes Bold Steps Toward Military Reform". Stratfor. January 11, 2016.
- China plans military reform to enhance its readiness - The-Japan-news.com, 2 January 2014
- "PLA to announce overhaul: five 'strategic zones' will replace regional commands, most army HQ to be scrapped". South China Morning Post. 19 December 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2016.