New joint com­mand sys­tem ‘on the way’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO SHENGNAN zhaosheng­nan@chi­ cn

The Chi­nese mil­i­tary is to es­tab­lish a joint op­er­a­tional com­mand sys­tem “in due course”, with ob­servers say­ing this will re­sult in more-co­or­di­nated and com­bat-ca­pa­ble forces to ef­fi­ciently re­spond to a cri­sis.

Set­ting up the sys­tem is a ba­sic re­quire­ment in an era of in­for­ma­tion, and the mil­i­tary has launched pos­i­tive pi­lot pro­grams in this re­gard, the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense told China Daily on Thurs­day.

The re­marks came shortly af­ter a Ja­panese me­dia re­port said China is con­sid­er­ing re­or­ga­niz­ing its seven mil­i­tary re­gions into five.

Each of the new mil­i­tary re­gions would cre­ate a joint op­er­a­tions com­mand con­trol­ling the army, navy and air force as well as a strate­gic mis­sile unit, the re­port said.

On Wed­nes­day, the Yomi­uri Shim­bun news­pa­per said the planned re­vamp would mark a shift from the de­fense-ori­ented mil­i­tary, which re­lies mainly on the army, to one en­sur­ing more mo­bile and in­te­grated man­age­ment.

The min­istry said the mod­ern­iza­tion of the mil­i­tary is not tar­geted at any coun­try.

Ob­servers said the mil­i­tary’s struc­tural re­form, which was un­der­scored by a land­mark re­form plan adopted by the Third Plenum of the 18th Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in Novem­ber, is gath­er­ing pace as the coun­try in­creases so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy but also faces dif­fer­ent se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

The plan seeks to “im­prove the com­bined com­bat com­mand sys­tems, push for­ward re­form of train­ing and lo­gis­tics for joint com­bat op­er­a­tions”.

Ouyang Wei, a pro­fes­sor at the Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, said a joint op­er­a­tional com­mand sys­tem high­lights uni­fied com­mand and in­for­ma­tion shar­ing across at least two dif­fer­ent mil­i­tary forces.

It would help the mil­i­tary re­spond quickly to a con­tin­gency, he said, adding, “The sys­tem, which has been pop­u­lar in the West for decades, is not (aimed at) start­ing a war, but to kill it in the cra­dle.”

Zhao Xiaozhuo, deputy di­rec­tor of the center on Chi­naUS de­fense re­la­tions at the PLA Academy of Mil­i­tary Sci­ence, said the seven mil­i­tary re­gions were es­tab­lished in 1985, with the army as the back­bone force.

China has been try­ing to op­ti­mize the al­lo­ca­tion of th­ese mil­i­tary re­gions, given that in­ci­dents are in­creas­ingly likely to hap­pen at sea, said Zhao, cit­ing as an ex­am­ple the Diaoyu Is­lands, the group of islets in the East China Sea that Ja­pan il­le­gally “na­tion­al­ized” in 2012.

“An in­creas­ingly ef­fi­cient mil­i­tary will not nec­es­sar­ily be a more ag­gres­sive one. China has made its peace­ful stand clear, but it is time to im­prove its com­bat abil­ity,” he said.

Li Qing­gong, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China Coun­cil for Na­tional Se­cu­rity Pol­icy Stud­ies, said will fur­ther boost its high-tech naval, air and nu­clear forces that started de­vel­op­ing much later than its army.

The navy is prob­a­bly the high­est pri­or­ity, in­clud­ing hav­ing more air­craft car­ri­ers and stronger fleets, he said.

“China has built an iron bas­tion in its bor­der re­gions. The ma­jor con­cern lies at sea,” Li said.

e Chi­nese navy con­ducted a se­ries of in­creas­ingly com­plex and pow­er­ful thrusts into the Pa­cific Ocean in 2013.

Its sole air­craft car­rier re­turned to its home port in East China on Wed­nes­day af­ter com­plet­ing tests and train­ing in the South China Sea for the first time.

But both the navy’s de­vel­op­ment and the mil­i­tary’s struc­tural re­form will take time, said Lin Dong, a pro­fes­sor at Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity.

Ouyang said China should train more com­man­ders who are skilled in var­i­ous ar­eas, and make more break­throughs in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy.

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