The PLA on Parade

The PLA on Parade
The PLA on Parade 

The Wall Street Journal
SEPTEMBER 28, 2009,

Perhaps the most prominent event marking the 60th anniversary of the 
founding of the People's Republic of China will be a massive parade 
showcasing the People's Liberation Army's newest technologies. Chinese 
and Western reports indicate some 52 weapons will be unveiled, including 
intercontinental and medium-range ballistic missiles, unmanned aerial 
vehicles, long-range cruise missiles and the domestically produced J-10 
fighter plane.

In some respects the big guns will be a distraction. The lower-profile 
command, control and communications systems, such as airborne 
early-warning and control aircraft and satellite-communications devices, 
more accurately reflect the comprehensive challenge of China's expanding 
military capabilities. These systems might not look that special while 
in a parade, but they evince the increasing sophistication of China's 
strategic thinking and technology.

China isn't aiming to match the United States weapon-for-weapon. 
Instead, China is pursuing an "asymmetric" approach. It is a view of 
future warfare, expounded in PLA analyses, that focuses more on enabling 
the PLA to gather, transmit and exploit information while denying an 
opponent that same ability.

China's knowledge of how to use its newly acquired advanced systems to 
counter more efficiently American strengths poses the biggest challenge. 
Space systems are crucial to this effort. Not only do they occupy the 
"high ground" essential for garnering information superiority, but they 
have been a key part of the American way of evidenced in Kuwait, 
Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Less noticeable, but arguably even more important and worrisome, is a 
coherent doctrine and improved training regimens. PLA training efforts 
also include extensive exercising of command-and-control capabilities, 
employing forces that cross military region boundaries, and "conducting 
training in complex electromagnetic environments," a reference to both 
electronic warfare and cyberwarfare.


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