PLA takes step forward with new zones

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/2/3 19:38:01

Editor's Note:

A grand inauguration was held to mark the establishment of five theater commands of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Beijing on Monday. The newly established strategic zones are the Eastern Theater Command, Southern Theater Command, Western Theater Command, Northern Theater Command and Central Theater Command. Chinese President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Xi Jinping conferred military flags on the commands and addressed the ceremony. The Global Times has collected three pieces about the significance of China's unfolding military reforms.

Illustration: Shen Lan/GT

Joint system is great example of reform

Establishing a new joint battle command system is a paramount priority of China's military reforms in the 21st century. In January, the Army General Command, the Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force were founded and now the five battle zone commands have replaced the original seven military regions. This massive overhaul has taken strategic directions into full consideration, consequently breaking administrative boundaries, which is conducive to pooling all combat resources and giving play to their full effectiveness.

Integrating management and command as well as construction and combat, the former seven military regions are mainly engaged in commanding ground troops within their own sub-command. It was therefore hard for these sub-commands to launch cross-regional joint operation. However, the theater commands act as a bridge between the CMC and the troops. The CMC can make concerted effort with commanding agencies through the theater commands to direct different troops, promoting combat efficiency.

The official debut of the five battle zones unveiled all the key roles in China's military reforms surrounding the construction of joint operational commanding institutions. A larger-than-life military panorama is shaping up. The theater commands will turn to all combat powers by putting land, sea and air forces on an equal footing.

The brand new relationship is conducive to developing a fresh institution featuring joint training, joint support and joint operation. In this way, it meets the latest trend of joint operation in the modern information era. In addition, by readjusting the proportion among ground, navy and air forces, the ratio between organs and troops, the proportion between officials and soldiers and that between combat and non-combat forces, the establishment of the theater commands optimizes the structure among different corps to reshape the organizational forms, the operational mode and the management mechanism of the military and further improve its fighting capacity.

The system of theater commands is a common pursuit of major military powers. The US has long been practicing the Unified Combatant Command system which, for example, includes Northern, Southern, European and Pacific commands. The theater commands in China are a unique design based on China's national conditions instead of a mechanical imitation of other countries' practice. They represent a leapfrog step toward the development of a strong military.

The Beijing News

Iconic progress made in new commands

Setting up the five theater commands and their joint operational commanding institutions is a strategic decision made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CMC and President Xi Jinping with a view to realizing the Chinese dream and the dream of a strong military. It marks iconic and historic progress by the PLA in building a joint operational system.

Xi gave instructions elaborating the crucial role of the theater commands and proposing articulate requirements for the joint operational commanding institutions of the commands.

The seven separate military regions' leadership and commanding system, which has run for more than six decades, has played an important role in advancing the PLA's development. However, it has gradually taken on limitations because it fails to highlight the battle commanding function and improve the joint operational capacity. Without a sound joint commanding and training system, it has been difficult to ensure the smooth development of a joint support mechanism, which has become an institutional obstacle within the PLA in improving its combat readiness and gaining victory on battlefield.

The regrouping of the seven military regions into the five theater commands separates the military's combat commanding functions from its construction and management functions. The new structure provides a fundamental institutional guarantee for the PLA to develop integrated joint operational capacity.

The five theater commands are responsible for tackling security threats, safeguarding peace, deterring warfare, and winning battles. Their commanding rights and liabilities are granted by the CMC, which is an inevitable demand for developing an integrated joint operational system and an important demonstration of the basic principle that the Party has absolute leadership over the army. All troops with combat missions, regardless of their services and arms, must adopt a comprehensive view and follow directions from the theater commands to enhance their joint operational capacity.

All the five theater commands must resolutely obey the orders of the CPC Central Committee and the CMC, always bear in mind Xi's instructions and their own missions, work strenuously to realize the dream of a strong military and to set up absolutely loyal, highly efficient, courageous and prudent joint combat commanding institutions.

PLA Daily

Military reform finds fresh heyday

With the appearance of the five theater commands, China's military reform is ushering in its heyday.

Over the past couple of months, from President Xi Jinping's important speech at the CMC Reform Work Conference on November 24 to his instructions on the military revamp on Monday, a variety of tasks required by the PLA's leadership and commanding system reform have gradually been done. And now the new structure has come into being.

The development of the PLA is a history of reform and innovation. Under the leadership of the CPC, the military has grown bigger and stronger, accompanied by victories one after another. Its perennial vigor is closely associated with its efforts to keep pace with the times and promote corresponding reforms.

The new round of reform restructures the organization of the PLA.

In the most drastic overhaul to modernize and improve the efficiency of the military since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the four key headquarters composed of the general staff, politics, logistics and armaments have been dismantled, and the seven military regions have been replaced by five battle zone commands.

Bidding farewell to the past is aimed at building a better future. Given the influence of the global military revolution upon troops' fighting capacity, the ongoing bout of the PLA's military reform is a systematic reinvention of force structures, reconfiguration of the combat elements in the previous mechanization era, and an adaptation of the productive relations of the military.

The new structure explicitly stipulating the responsibilities of the CMC. The five battle zone commands and military services will help build up a rigorous power restriction and supervision mechanism, cultivate new combat capacities, foster an increasing amount of military talent and make the best use of their gifts to vigorously boost the inclusive development of economy and defense.

We are convinced that the historic round of military reform will accelerate the PLA's pace in building a strong military and ensure the realization of the "two centenary goals" and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation.

Xinhua News Agency

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