China's Major Military Restructuring Aimed at 'Closing the Gap' With US

© REUTERS / StringerSoldiers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) Lanzhou Military Region jump through a burning obstacle during a training session at a military base in Tianshui, Gansu province, China, January 6, 2016
Soldiers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) Lanzhou Military Region jump through a burning obstacle during a training session at a military base in Tianshui, Gansu province, China, January 6, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The People's Liberation Army is going through a major reorganization on a scale unseen since the 1950s, which is aimed at creating a modern fighting force to "close the gap with US capabilities," Wyatt Olson wrote for Stars and Stripes.

"Although much remains vague about how the restructuring will take place, China's civilian and military leaders have recognized that its armed forces lag behind the US military in important aspects," he observed.

The overhaul, supervised by the Communist Party's Central Committee, was launched on January 1 and is meant to be finished in less than five years, by 2020. The overarching goal is to create a "strong" and "modern military system with Chinese characteristics," China's Xinhua news agency noted.

Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps are seen in training at a military training base in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region - Sputnik International
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When this process is complete, "the line-and-block chart of the PLA from the national level down to the theater level will be obsolete, because it is the key elements of the legacy organizational framework itself that are the objects of change," David M. Finkelstein explained in a recent analysis.

Chinese authorities have added three new units to its military: the PLA Rocket Force to oversee nuclear and conventional missiles, an army general command and strategic support force. In addition, the country's existing military regions will be replaced by "joint-warfighting commands in charge of 'war zones' or 'theaters of operation,'" Olson noted.

© REUTERS / Damir SagoljSoldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015 - Sputnik International
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015

The PLA is also expected to lay off 300,000 people, phase out aging weapons and replace them with cutting-edge armaments. "Balance of forces among services, ratio of officers to enlisted personnel, location of force deployments, the military justice system and many other realms" are also expected to be subject to change, the expert added.

"If successful, the military reform will help modernize the PLA's management system and overcome the existing organizational problems still in place in the army," defense expert Vasily Kashin told Sputnik earlier this year.

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