China / People

Military revamps command system

By Zhao Lei and Zhang Yunbi (China Daily Europe) Updated: 2016-02-08 15:17

It is part of a massive overhaul of the defense system and People's Liberation Army that began with a 300,000 cut in troop numbers

The People's Liberation Army overhauled its regional command system on Feb 1 in an attempt to improve the military's joint operational capability.

President Xi Jinping, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, presented PLA flags to top officers from the five newly established areas of command at a ceremony at the commission's headquarters in Beijing.

 Military revamps command system

President Xi Jinping presents a military flag to Zhao Zongqi, commander of the newly created Western Theater Command, at a ceremony in Beijing on Feb 1. Li Gang / Xinhua

The new theater commands are for the eastern, southern, western, northern and central areas.

They replace the seven regional commands named after the cities where their headquarters were located: Beijing, Shenyang, Ji'nan, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

Xi said the five theater commands are responsible for dealing with security threats in their respective strategic fields, maintaining peace, and containing and winning wars, noting their pivotal role in safeguarding the country's overall national security and military strategies.

Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, said at a news conference that rearranging the regional military commands would not change the PLA's defensive nature. He added that the military would take good care of officers affected by the overhaul.

The move is the latest step taken by Xi in a massive overhaul of the defense system and the PLA. It began in September when the president announced that China would cut the number of troops by 300,000.

In late November, a plenary session of the Central Military Commission announced a plan to reorganize itself and the regional military commands.

At the end of December, the PLA Army Headquarters, the PLA Rocket Force and the PLA Strategic Support Force were set up.

Last month, the PLA's central departments - staff, politics, logistics and armaments - were dismantled and their functions and duties were reassigned to 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission.

Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, says the seven regional commands had been tied to a combat mode centered on ground forces, while the new system features joint operations and information capacity. The previous regional commands were formed in 1985 under a reform ordered by then top leader Deng Xiaoping.

Lou Yaoliang, head of military strategy studies at the National Defense University, says the new regional commands will be responsible for performing military operations, while the headquarters of each service will take charge of managing and training troops.

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