China to overhaul land troops in bid to transform world’s biggest army into nimble fighting force: sources

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The army comprises 1.55 million soldiers, of which 850,000 are mobile troops, most of whom are under the army corps, while the rest are regional garrison troops. Pictured, the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war in Beijing. Photo: Simon Song

 

China will reorganise more than half of its 1.55 million land force troops, phasing out its army corps as it tries to mould a more nimble fighting force, sources familiar with the military said, adding that strong internal resistance to the change was expected.

Some of the existing 18 Army Corps will be turned into 25 to 30 divisions, they told the South China Morning Post. The size of a corp varies from 30,000 to 100,000 soldiers.

The approach was inherited from the Soviet Union, but it’s a bulky model no longer suited to the demands of modern warfare, which prizes modularity, according to a retired senior colonel based in Beijing. Continue reading