PLA: Thrust on Integrated Joint War-Fighting


The Chairman
Apr 17, 2009
PLA: Thrust on Integrated Joint War-Fighting

By Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee

Banerjee first presents an overview of China's major policy considerations - following a Sun-Zi quote:

"Therefore, soldiers do not have a constant position,
water does not have a constant shape,
and to be able to attain victory in response
to the change of the enemy is called miraculous", —Sun Zi

She (China) has identified her strategic challenges in the form of, firstly, assimilation of Taiwan, secondly, management of America's role in Asia, thirdly, dealing with emergence of Japan's high-technology Self Defence Force, and fourthly, securing a position of predominance in the neighbourhood. Her thrust on enhancing her overall "Comprehensive National Power" (CNP) and constructing a favourable "Strategic Configuration of Power" in the region are but means towards that end.
He then moves on to emphasize the broad scope of projected changes in Chinese "force structure", which encompasses both military and civilian branches and is not confined to military forces:

Integration of all aspects of war-fighting has emerged as the foundation of China's military modernisation. Thus in a remarkable departure from the pre-Vietnam War concept that professed deployment of massed ground forces backed up with just about rudimentary support services and logistics, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is gearing up to synergise employment of her various service elements in a holistic manner to achieve her future military goals. Each arm and service of PLA therefore, is being structured to undertake newly defined roles within a profound ambit of 'joint operations' so as to project a conjoined and complementary force-structure. Having fixated our focus on what is formally espoused by China – 'military modernisation', 'informationalisation', and 'localised conflicts' – many nuances of this developments remain to be fully dissected yet.

Seen in its entirety by the students of military strategy, there is nothing extraordinary in the Chinese scheme of military modernisation. What, however, is remarkable, is the manner in which the Chinese leadership has contrived the scheme and focused on its planning and implementation that leaves no arm of the state – military or civil – any leeway to divert from the process. The second remarkable feature of PLA's modernisation is the judicious manner in which the qualitative limitations of human and technological resources at her disposal have been assimilated to devise an eminently practical and implementable road map that would allow her to achieve her goals with least resistance from systemic hurdles. Full integration of the entire range of capabilities at the national as well as strategic levels, and a scaled down version of joint force-structuring at operational and tactical levels for the present – a somewhat top-down approach – is a fallout of this dispensation. ...
The discussion then flows under seven major headings: "Evolution of Modern China's Military Strategy"; "China's Politico-Military Goals"; "Landmarks of China's Military Modernisation at the National Level"; "The Concept of IJW at the Military Level"; "The Doctrine of War Zone Campaign"; "Application of IJW"; and "Reality Check of Implications".

I'm taking one section, "Application of IJW", simply to illustrate Banerjee's thinking and his vision of what IJW (aka "unrestricted warfare", at least in part) might look like - that doesn't mean that his other headings should be skipped.

Application of IJW ["Integrated Joint Warfare"]

It is obvious that 'IJW' is but the PLA's terminology for modern multi-service combined arms and services operations. However, on account of the fore-stated qualitative constraints, it would be farfetched at the present stage to anticipate its application at tactical levels to that degree as it was seen during the Coalition Force operations in the Gulf Wars – that level of grass-root integration is far away yet. To that extent, Chinese strategists have done well to confine the scope of IJW mostly to the strategic level, with limited percolation down to the operational level, that would, even then, provide for adequate potential to confront a technologically advanced and strong military power.

Indeed, proposition of the PLA's concepts of war-fighting in what it terms as the "New Period" is well tuned towards conduct of IJW. It is indicative of the rich strategic wisdom of China. It may, therefore, be in order to briefly mention certain important prospects of such a preposition – the connection with IJW is quite obvious:

Stage 1. A confrontation may begin with "Domination, Deterrence and Posturing" with missile forces, SOF actions, military buildup and politico-economic impositions. The purpose would be to make the adversary see 'reason' and back out from military confrontation.

Stage 2. The next step could be "Gaining Initiative by Striking First" by means of pre-emptive missile strikes and long range air and naval attacks. Such recourses are to be sustained with surprise, deception and asymmetric initiatives. Besides, what is termed as 'SOF Action' – that actually implies trailer-like pre-emptive attack of limited scope, but hurtful nevertheless – will form part of this scheme. The purpose at this stage would be to give to the adversary a taste of the 'medicine' and motivate him to come to terms – China's terms, of course.

Stage 3. At this stage, a still defiant adversary would be subjected to the next step in the escalatory ladder by fighting a "Quick Battle to Force a Quick Resolution". Rapid concentration of POE forces would be achieved by 'Exterior (intra-MR) or Leap Forward (inter-MR) Mobility' in ground, air or sea modes and deployment of RRFs to overwhelm the adversary's frontline forces.

Stage 4. In case favourable resolution of the conflict is still not forthcoming, "In-depth Strike" would follow in near-simultaneity with Stage 3, wherein gains made by the preceding echelons would be consolidated and expanded by regular ground, air or sea formations, by recourse to the concept of 'Active Defence' and 'Localised War' till the desired point of culmination is reached.

Besides the aforesaid, efforts towards development of cyber-war, space-war, and what is termed as the "Three Warfares" capabilities – psychological, media and 'legal' warfare – point towards a very focused and conjoined view of war among the Chinese strategists. Accordingly, China's military strategy stands to be reinforced with various quasi-military efforts, wherein interference with the adversary's data-information network, fact-manipulating propaganda and even recourse to imposition of her unilateral interpretation of international laws and norms would form part of her grand strategy. ...
Banerjee concludes with a warning and an advisory:

There is thus a hint of 'all-out war' in the fundamental version of the Chinese thinking on IJW. Muscle-flexing in South-East China Sea, weaving a 'string of pearls' around the Indian Ocean, empowering a habitually irresponsible 'side-kick' in the region, hanging the 'Damocles sword' over Taiwan, nonchalant diversion of river waters and wide-spread cyber intrusions are some manifestations of that potential.

Reportedly, internal troubles in the peripheral regions of her territories have resuscitated the military hawks in China's policy-making hierarchy. Given the glimpses of China's grand strategy – which encompasses civilian, dual-use and purely military recourses to conduct operations at psychological, politico–economic and military levels – none who she sees as her rival may afford to remain complacent.

"Only those who have great strength,
and who are perceived to be willing to unleash it,
can protect their interests without use of force", —Luttwak.
We now turn to a view from China's neighbor to the East.
New Generation Warfare and Unrestricted Warfare - Small Wars Professionals Forums

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