A History of the Modern Chinese Army

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In the s, the Chinese army was in its infancy, and many soldiers were rural conscripts and volunteers who had received little formal schooling. The Chinese military rapidly increased its mobility and weapon strength, and the Korean War and Cold War offered intense combat experience that not only allowed soldiers to hone their fighting techniques but also helped China to develop military tactics tailored to the surrounding countries whose armies posed the most immediate threats.

A History of the Modern Chinese Army

Yet even in the s, the completion of a middle school education nine years was considered above-average, and only 4 percent of the top Chinese generals had any college credit hours. However, in the high command began to institute massive reforms to transform the PLA from a labor-intensive force into a technology-intensive army. Continually seeking more urban conscripts and emphasizing higher education, the PLA Reserve Officer Training and Selection program recruited students from across the nation. These reservists would become commissioned officers upon graduation, and they majored in atomic physics, computer science, and electrical engineering.

But that takes a totally different approach and kind of war-fighting, according to Flournoy.

But there is good news: China and Russia, while not paper tigers, do have vulnerabilities. China has gone through something of a military revolution, and the Communist party has purged hundreds of generals from its ranks.

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For instance, China established five regional commands, similar to the U. The criticism is similar to those hurled at some Middle Eastern militaries: troops from authoritarian countries have centralized command structures that fail to adapt during combat situations in real-time.

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The U. Under this concept, the emphasis is on the outcome of a mission rather than the specific means of achieving it.

So, while U. The disease originates from the fact that the last time the PLA fought a major battle was during its unsuccessful war against Vietnam in the late s.

How Combat Experience Matters

Utilizing cyber attacks, information warfare and soldiers in sanitized uniforms, Russia has been enormously successful in staying below the level of conventional warfare, according to Keane. But Russia has serious military problems, Keane noted.

China's People's Liberation Army: Past, Present and Future

Moscow has professionalized only percent of its armed forces. But the rest of the Russian military is still built around conscripts, drafted to serve one year and generally unreliable. It is also commonly noted that the Russian economy has stagnated in recent years, which could hurt military modernization, but the extent to which that is a factor is a subject of debate. By contrast, the U. But Keane warned against some of the existing lines of effort.

Keane said the U.

The Chinese Military Speaks to Itself, Revealing Doubts

Kyle Rempfer is a staff reporter for Military Times. He previously served an enlistment in U. Air Force Special Tactics.

Kyle's reporting focuses on the Department of the Army.