CHINA UPGRADES FORCE PROJECTION DOCTRINE
Along with a large-scale nuclear and conventional arms buildup, China is upgrading its military doctrine to include guidance focusing on rapid military power projection, according to Pentagon intelligence officials.
The People’s Liberation Army recently issued new guidance calling for the use of what is calling “rapid force projection.”
“This is intended to hasten the transition from regional defense to full area operations,” said one Pentagon official familiar with reports of the new military guidance.
Pentagon intelligence agencies closely monitor all Chinese military developments because the U.S. military is increasingly concerned it could find itself in a conflict in the future over Beijing’s growing military activities in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The new guidance was discussed during an internal meeting of senior Chinese military leaders last week, the officials said.
Disclosure of the rapid force projection guidance comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping announced after a meeting of military leaders that the PLA is adopting major reforms designed to streamline the military. Mr. Xi, who chairs the Central Military Commission in addition to being Communist Party general secretary and head of state, announced the scaled-down military structure following a twoday conference on military reforms with 230 senior officers.
China announced earlier that it is cutting 300,000 troops from its 2.3 million-troop army.
The goal is to upgrade the Chinese military into a high-technology military force capable of conducting joint, multi-service military operations similar to those carried out for decades by the U.S. military.
“There have been new changes in terms of the military’s size, structure and formation, which features smaller-in-size, more capable-in-strength modulization and multi-functionality, with scientific factors playing bigger roles,” Mr. Xi said, without elaborating.
The shift from regional defense to rapid power projection was not a surprise to U.S. intelligence agencies that have been monitoring the change for the past several years. The new Chinese military guidance contradicts the views of many U.S. military and intelligence officials who for decades wrongly asserted China’s military is focused solely on potential conflicts close to China’s coasts, such as a clash over Taiwan or with Japan over the disputed Senkaku islands.
U.S. intelligence agencies stated in February that the buildup of Chinese military forces in the South China Sea, for example, is aimed at developing rapid power projection capabilities.
New military bases under construction in the South China Sea provide Beijing with “significant capacity to quickly project substantial offensive military power in the region,” according to an intelligence assessment released to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.
Larry Wortzel, a former U.S. military intelligence officer, said one goal of PLA reforms has been to develop military forces that can be rapidly deployed around the world in areas important to Chinese economic interests.
“The rationale given by the PLA is that there already are hundreds of Chinese peacekeepers deployed for the U.N., and that in two instances in the recent past, China has had to evacuate civilians in trouble in unstable areas,” said Mr. Wortzel, also a member of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission that addressed the issue in its latest annual report.
“As we point out in our annual report to Congress, these same capabilities can be used for other forms of expeditionary force projection missions,” he said.
A Rand Corp. report on China’s military made public this week identifies several key military capabilities for China. They include drones, hypersonic glide vehicles, stealth jets, aircraft carriers and longrange ballistic and cruise missiles.