China hits the launch button for massive PLA shake-up to create a modern, nimble force

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Xi Jinping announced on September 3 that the army would shed 300,000 troops. Photo: Xinhua

 

Top leaders of the People’s Liberation Army were yesterday told the long-awaited overhaul of the armed forces had been launched, with the existing seven military commands to be regrouped into four strategic zones, sources close to the PLA said.

The restructure was formally announced at a plenary session of the leading group for national defence and military reform under the Central Military Commission.

The session was attended by President Xi Jinping and top leaders from the PLA’s four headquarters, seven key military commands, navy, air force, missile corps and armed police.

One of the sources told the South China Morning Post that Xi, who is also CMC chairman, urged the leaders to comply with what is expected to be a long and extensive restructuring.

“It’s a long-anticipated overhaul for grass-roots soldiers because it’s a practical push to turn the PLA into a real modern army of international standard,” the source said.

Hong Kong-based military observer Liang Guoliang said Xi did not have time to wait to get rolling with the reform.

“Xi has to take action to introduce the overhaul because it has been studied for more than a decade,” Liang said.

“Xi’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiatives need a real strong blue-water navy to protect China’s maritime lifelines and its expanding overseas interests.

“But the command structure of today’s PLA is focused on land forces and does not have what it takes to meet those needs,” Liang said.

Full article: China hits the launch button for massive PLA shake-up to create a modern, nimble force (South China Morning Post)

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