China Maritime Report No. 9: Organizing to Fight in the Far Seas, the Chinese Navy in an Era of Military Reform [open pdf - 961KB]
From the Introduction: "In recent years, the Chinese military has undergone major organizational reform. While primarily intended to improve the ability of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct joint operations within the first island chain, the reform also has implications for naval operations outside of East Asia. This report argues that in order to execute a 'near seas defense and far seas protection' strategy, the PLA has taken a two-pronged approach to reforming its forces. On the one hand, the PLA has dramatically strengthened control and employment of its forces in the near seas. On the other, the PLA has also made several changes that set the foundations for far seas operations. This tandem approach acts in some ways as a 'sword and shield,' wherein a consolidated defensive position in the near seas allows offensive forces to project out into the far seas. The report comprises four main parts. First, we discuss the challenges that PLA reform and PLA Navy (PLAN) strategy intend to resolve. Second, we highlight key organizational developments within the PLAN that preceded China's military reform. Third, we outline the primary focus of the reform--i.e., strengthening the PLA's ability to conduct joint operations in the near seas--and examine how this goal has impacted the organizational structure of the PLAN. Lastly, we discuss the known facts of command and control of PLAN forces operating in the far seas."
China Maritime Studies Institute, China Maritime Report No. 9
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