Taking the Fight to the Enemy: Chinese Thinking About Long-Distance and Expeditionary Operations   [open pdf - 4MB]

"This Letort Paper analyzes 'Long-Distance Operations', a Chinese-language book published by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) in 2007, as well as several other contemporaneous PLA publications. An assessment of this body of literature shows that 'Long-Distance Operations' provides an internal critique by a PLA strategist of PLA operational and equipment deficiencies. Many of the capabilities, concepts for engaging an enemy, and forms of expeditionary operations called for in Long-Distance Operations have become operational doctrine in the PLA or have been reflected in weapons development programs since the book's publication. For instance, the PLA has made long-distance deployments with flotillas and expeditionary task groups, conducted long-range air operations, conducted exercises for long-distance ground force deployments, and used expeditionary forces for non-combatant evacuation operations. [...] Thus far, the recommendations related to expeditionary operations have all been couched under the rubric of China's longstanding 'active defense' strategy. As part of active defense, one of the key ideas advanced in 'Long-Distance Operations' is the need to target an adversary's homeland and bring the threat to an enemy's civilian population. This analysis suggests that there is value in tracking the writings of PLA officers who are advocating new weapons systems, forms of operations, and operational concepts. The research can offer leading indicators of, and context for, emerging PLA capabilities. Observers should compare the aspirational literature to actual PLA exercises and training to determine which concepts are being put into practice and at what rate. Finally, it is important to realize that tracking the careers of individual Chinese military strategist-authors who participate in debates about future capabilities may be a useful window into the salience of particular currents of thought and the relative importance of particular domains of warfare as perceived by the PLA."

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