Right Sizing the People's Liberation Army: Exploring the Contours of China's Military   [open pdf - 2MB]

"China is the emerging power having 'the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages absent U.S. counter strategies,' according to the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review from the U.S. Department of Defense. With military spending and modernization that have persisted with little or no abatement or recantation for well over a decade, China has the entire international community wondering to what ends such growth will be put. To answer this question, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) assembled scholars and People's Liberation Army (PLA) analysts for the 2006 PLA Conference at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Only a year earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had observed in an interview that China's 'military buildup looks outsized for its regional concerns.' The question before the PLA Conference raises another important question: What would a 'right sized' PLA look like? In other words, in terms of China's national security strategy, regional and global requirements and expectations, and domestic drivers, what might an armed force consistent with Beijing's legitimate selfdefense requirements be composed of and how large would it be? The PLA Conference, by exploring the right size for PLA missions, functions, and organization, provided insight into future Chinese defense planning, strategic intentions, and potential PLA missions."

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