Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Chinese Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) in the making?

Soon, the CMC will have two corps of light infantry (The Marine with six infantry and a SpOP brigades and the Airborne of the same), two Army Air Assault Brigades (the 121st and the 161th) and  a super heavy Mech Infantry Division (the 112th) under its direct strategic command.  It does not take much of an imagination to picture a Joint Rapid Reaction Force in the making.  The JRRF (kuaisu fanyin budui) concept was first proposed by the British Army in the 1990s consists of combat and support elements from land, sea and air to a trouble spot rapidly and at a short notice.  More importantly than just showing the flag, a JRRF is capable of fighting a high intensity small/medium scale engagement.

The CMC might not able to project the 15,000 personnel of its British Army counter part to a great distance.   However, it has demonstrated previously on several occasions, both in drills and in natural disaster responses, that it can deploy several First Echelon battalion size battle-groups within a 48-hour window (here).

"2 days after May 12th 2008 Earthquake hit,  of 81,000 PLA troops arrived, there were 4,000 airborne, 2,600 Marine, Naval, and Air Force personnel, and troop units directly affiliated with the CMC’s four general headquarters/departments."
Of course, the size of the Chinese JRRF First Echelon will decrease in accordance with the deployment distance -- It is one thing to deploy 81,000 troops to Sichuan via internal rail and highway, it is a completely different picture if the destination is North Africa, for example.  CMC's strategic transportation assets would be the bottleneck in such an example.  Its deployment capability can be easily calculated by assessing the number of ships and transport planes currently available.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

15th Airborne Corps' new ORBAT

The CMC decommissioned three divisional headquarters (43rd, 44th and 45th) on April 19th,  their regiments are now reformed into 6 brigades (127th, 128th, 130th, 131st, 133rd, and 134th) directly under the corps headquarters .   Additionally,  there will be a new SpOps Brigade, a Strategic Support Brigade (Engineering, Communication, etc) and an Aviation Brigade(Fixed And Rotary Wing Aircraft) bringing to a total of 9 line brigades.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Photos of the day: Combined tactical battalion airborne assault against a fixed position in the Tibetan mountains

Again, this little drill is part of a greater PLA defense strategy against a foreign power's newly created mountain strike corps.  It took place on August 19th.   China has to react to a force of 80,000 troops stationing right across the boarder, trained and equipped to invade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Rapid reinforcement to Tibet.

Tibet is one of China's largest regions but with only three line brigades protecting it (52nd, 53rd and 54th mountain Brigades), clearly it's ORBAT is not geared for large scale military operations, especially in defense against a foreign power's new mountain strike corps.   To beef up, the PLA high command is shifting its 15th airborne corp for rapid reinforcement from Wuhan in time of crisis, hopeful this will buy time until REGFORCE reinforcements arrive.

Just last week, they conducted a 5000 meter supply and a SpOps insertion drop

 Go Pro!  

Photos of the day: 15th Airborne's rapid deployment to Tibet.

Last week a mechanized regiment of 15th Airborne Corp, conducted a battalion size rapid deployment into the Tibetan Plateau.  Here are pictures from this "independent action" exercise.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

PR photos of the day: More air-assault pictures, this time with the navy

A Z-10 attack helicopter attached to an army aviation brigade under the PLA Eastern Theater Command flies alongside the amphibious dock landing ship Kunlunshan (Hull Number 998) during a maritime training exercise in mid-August, 2017. ( by Zhang Huanpeng)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Photos of the day: 6th LH Brigade, 42nd Group Army, Southern Theater Command conducts training in South China Sea

The Taiwan Strait is 180 kilometers wide separating ROC and PRC.   The WZ10 attack chopper has a range of 800 kilometers while the Z-8 heavy-lifter enjoys an additional 100 kilometers to a total of 900. The math is fairly straightforward here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

China's Marine Corps, a view within China

Expert: Marine Corps' overall combat capability needs to be enhanced
Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-01-26 17:260

BEIJING, January 26 (ChinaMil) -- Adm. Wu Shengli and Adm. Miao Hua, respectively commander and political commissar of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, observed the realistic confrontation exercises of the Marine Corps in the Gobi desert of Xinjiang on January 23.

This is the first time for the PLA Navy's top leaders to observe and instruct military exercises on the spot in 2016 according to public report, and the third time that Wu Shengli observed the cross-region exercises of the Marine Corps.

Zhang Junshe, associate researcher from the Military Academic Research Institute of the PLA Navy, said on January 25 that China's Marine Corps has large room for progress and will enhance its overall combat capability in the future.

It is reported that on January 22 and 23, the Marine Corps carried out live fire verification exercise, the confrontation exercise and the counter-terrorism drill involving special operations regiment in the Gobi desert for the first time. This is the fourth cross-region exercise of the Marine Corps since March 2014 and Wu Shengli has observed and instructed three of them, indicating the great importance he attaches to the Marine Corps.

"With a vast territory, China is faced with complicated surrounding situations, diversified threats and challenges, and volatile conditions. As we have expanded our national security interests and overseas interests, realistic war threats not only exist in the surrounding waters, but may also appear in more directions, remoter areas and vaster space", according to Zhang Junshe.

Therefore, Zhang stressed, "the Chinese Marine Corps has to be well trained in amphibious attack and carry out realistic trainings in high-elevation and cold areas, mountains, forests and Gobi desert, so as to adapt to different tasks and requirements under all kinds of circumstances."

The U.S. has the world's largest and strongest Marine Corps with nearly 200,000 troops, with three Marine Divisions as the ground combat force and close to 400 planes in the aviation force, including helicopters and F/A-18 and F-35 warplanes.

The U.S. has also deployed amphibious combat troops in all major theaters around the world, and has formed three ground expeditionary forces based on the three Marine Divisions, two deployed in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Atlantic Ocean.

Unlike the American Marine Corps that's focused on strike, Chinese Marine Corps' main mission is defensive combat. Although it is quite strong in the world, it still lags behind the American counterpart.

According to Zhang Junshe, "China's Marine Corps is much smaller than the U.S. counterpart in size. It lacks fixed-wing warplanes and the aviation force is too small. Moreover, China is weak in amphibious and long-distance power projection, and the PLA Navy lags far behind the American Navy that has about 30 large amphibious warfare ships."

Speaking of the Marine Corps development, Zhang Junshe believed the priority is to enhance its capability of amphibious landing operations and full-spectrum combat. Second, it should hone the ocean-going operation capability, with Chinese Marine Corps' participation in the Gulf of Aden escort missions and overseas Chinese evacuation operations being excellent practices.

In terms of equipment, the main battle equipment of the Marine Corps has to be further improved, including upgrading the tank performance and reinforcing aviation strike and transportation forces.

Moreover, large amphibious warfare ships with greater cruising ability, larger tonnage and higher speed shall be developed that can deliver Marines for combat operations quickly and improve their capability in amphibious landing operations, full-spectrum combat, and implementing diversified tasks.

The author is Guo Yuandan, reporter from the Global times. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Doing the math

Calculating the amphibious assets of a 10-ship formation can project, using "China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities -- Background and Issues for Congress" by Ronald O'Rourke and "Chinese Naval Shipbuilding: An Ambitious and Uncertain Course" edited by Andrew S. Erickson as the main references, here's the result: 

A Yuzhou Class Type 071 LPD is capable of carrying four helicopters and a naval infantry battalion with twenty armored fighting vehicles.  This would typically total five hundred to eight hundred assault troops per ship.

A PLAN LST (Yukan, Yuting-1, Yuting-II, Yudeng, etc) typically carry 3 MBT plus a naval infantry company, or 10 tanks without infantry.

Assuming normal, non-sardined, load here is what we can expect from the 10-ship formation below:

2x Type 071 LPD =  (20+20) 40 AFV plus 2 naval infantry battalions
8x LST= (8x3) 24 AFV plus 8 naval infantry companies

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Law Allows PLA to Undertake Counterterror Missions Overseas

China's new counter-terrorism law has made it legal for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to participate in counterterror missions overseas.
The PLA and the country's armed police forces may carry out such operations with the approval from the Central Military Commission, says the law adopted by top legislature on Sunday.
Public security and national security authorities may also send personnel overseas for counter-terrorism missions, with the approval from the State Council and agreements from concerned countries.
The law also stipulates that related departments, authorized by the State Council, may collaborate with overseas governments and international organizations in holding policy dialogues, communicating on intelligence information, enforcing the law and regulating international capitals.
The new law comes at a delicate time for China and for the world at large - terror attacks in Paris, the bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, and the brutal killings of hostages committed by the notorious Islamic State (IS) extremist group are alerting the world about an ever-growing threat of terrorism.
It will provide legal support to the country's counter-terrorism activities as well as collaboration with the international society, said An Weixing, an official with the public security ministry, at Sunday's press conference.

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