New PLA Rocket Force conducts desert, forest drills

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-5 1:08:01

Several missile brigades of the newly-formed Rocket Force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted military drills in the desert and snow-covered forests at the start of 2016, to enhance combat ability in extreme weather and environmental conditions.

China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Monday the missile brigades developed over 10 new tactics for snowfield combat, including rapid mobility methods and tactics to avoid airstrikes.

In the desert, the brigades simultaneously launched about 10 missiles, which reflects progress in the missile brigades' firepower, the CCTV reported.

The PLA Rocket Force, along with two other new bodies - the PLA Army General Command and the PLA Strategic Support Force - were launched on Thursday, as part of the country's military reform.

Chinese military experts said that the PLA Rocket Force, as China's fourth service, is on par with the army, navy and air force.

The PLA Rocket Force, renamed from the PLA Second Artillery Force, will be used for both nuclear deterrence and conventional warfare, said Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert.

Song said that more troops will be used for the rocket force, and the current ones will be adjusted according to the two different functions - nuclear deterrence and conventional warfare.

"It is likely that the PLA Rocket Force will be used in future military combat," Song told the Global Times.

He said that the force has more functions and troops than the previous one.

"The most important function shift is that the new rocket force will be a commanding unit for land-, air- and sea-based nuclear power, while the previous force was only responsible for land-based nuclear power," Song said.

A Wuhan-based military professor, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Monday that China will enhance medium- and long-range precision missile strike capabilities after the rocket force's launch.

Reiterating its no-first-use nuclear weapons policy and defensive nuclear strategy,  Yang Yujun, spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, said on Friday that China always keeps its nuclear capability at a minimum level required for safeguarding its national security, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Posted in: Military

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