The world’s largest military force of China has reduced the size of the land-based army and gradually shifting to its navy and air force as a part of an “unprecedented” strategic shift designed to transform the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a comprehensive modern force.
According to the reports, the “transformation changes” made by PLA, Xinhua said ” this new data is unprecedented in the history of the PLA – the army now accounts for less than 50 percent of the total number of PLA troops; almost half of our non-combatant units have been made redundant, and the number of officers in the PLA has been reduced by 30 percent.”
In the last few years, the PLA has cut down its military by limiting 3,00,000 lakh troops under the military reforms initiated by President Xi Jinping, still it remained the world’s largest military force with 2 million personnel.
The other 4 branches of the PLA – the navy, air force, rocket force and strategic support force are responsible for areas such as cyber warfare which together make up more than half of the Chinese military still being dominated by the PLA unit.
China has a massive expansion of the navy from the past several years, now it has one aircraft carrier, one is undergoing trial and third in making. According to officials it is said that China has planned to have 5-6 aircraft carriers. The rocket force and strategic support force mainly focus on missile warfare.
A military analyst Ni Lexiong said that it marked a significant shift from having a homeland-based defensive force to one with the capacity to allow Beijing to flex its muscles beyond its national borders and to protect its interests overseas. he further said that branches such as the navy, air force and missile units can now play a bigger role in the conflict fight with enemy forces beyond China’s borders.
He claimed that modern warfare puts a greater emphasis on superiority in areas such as the air, space and cyberspace – further reducing the importance of the ground force. In the earlier set up, the PLA has many officers so now, all these officers must find new positions and adapt or they all will be terminated. He added.
To modernize the military, President Xi stepped up efforts to established strategic and tactical missile operator. The Chinese military currently have 5 independent branches which includes the army, navy, air force, rocket force and they are in charge of cyber, space and electronic warfare.
The Red Army of China founded in 1927 which has become the victory for the Chinese Communist Party in the 1949 civil war. Till 1949, the PLA had no navy or air force. The PLA Rocket Force first known as ‘the Second Artillery Corps’ which was founded in 1966. According to a 2013 defence white paper, the PLA had a total of 2.3 million servicemen, with only 2,35,000 in the navy and 3,98,000 in the air force.