China reshuffles military headquarters in major revamp of PLA

Posted by admin on January 11, 2016

Beijing, Jan 11 (PTI) In a major military reform, Chinese President Xi Jinping today reorganised four army headquarters by replacing them with 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by him, tightening his control over the world’s largest force.

The new structure includes new commissions — discipline inspection, politics and law and science and technology — as well as the general office, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The reform includes formation of five more divisions, administration, auditing, international cooperation, reform, organisational structure and strategic planning.

There are six new departments, joint staff, political work, logistical support, equipment development, training, and national defence. Currently China has four army headquarters — staff, politics, logistics and armaments.

Xi, who is also the chief of the ruling Communist Party of China and chairman of the CMC, met the new chiefs of each agency today when he described the reshuffle as “a breakthrough” and called the new leadership system “a crucial step” toward a stronger military, the report said.

This is part of major reforms initiated by Xi to revamp the 2.3 million-strong and the world largest military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

64-year-old Xi is widely regarded as the most powerful Chinese leaders in recent decades after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping as he consolidated his power base heading the troika of President, CPC General Secretary and Chief of Military.

His reforms include retrenchment of three lakh troops to make the force lean and mean. The reforms included renaming of the strategic missile force as PLA Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force to provide proper electronic and cyber intelligence backup for precision missiles strikes during war and elevated their status as independent force along with army, navy and airforce.

As part of the reforms, the Chinese military has also for the first time integrated area commands looking after India and Pakistan. China has seven military area commands in Jinan, Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Guangzhou.

Chengdu looked after security of India’s Eastern sector in the Tibet region including Arunachal Pradesh while Lanzhou looked after the partly the western sector, including Kashmir region and Pakistan.

As per the new strategic zone plan, both Chengdu and Lanzhou gets integrated into strategic command region, making it perhaps the biggest areas for Chinese military. Lanzhou which looks after the border Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Afghanistan has been active in recent years battling the two way crossings of Uyghur Islamic militants from Xinjiang.

The unified joint command system which Xi initiated will end the army dominated set up with more role for airforce and navy which are on a massive modernisation under the USD 145 annual defence budget.

The overhaul is aimed at moving away from an army-centric system towards a Western-style joint command in which the army, navy and air force are equally represented.