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People's Liberation Army

The active components of the PLA are the country's standing army, which mainly undertakes the task of defensive military operations and helps maintain social order, if necessary, in accordance with the law. Its basic organizational structures can be categorized into the general headquarters/departments, the services and arms and the military area commands.

The PLA's general headquarters/departments system is composed of the General Staff Headquarters, the General Political Department, the General Logistics Department and the General Armaments Department, which are placed under the leadership of the CMC. The CMC, through these four general headquarters/ departments, directs all the military area commands and the services and arms. The routine work of the Ministry of National Defense is handled respectively by these four general headquarters/departments.

Operational control of the PLA runs from the Central Military Commissions to the PLA's general departments: General Staff Department, General Political Department, and General Logistics Department. Below the department level run parallel chains of command for operational, political, and logistical matters, each with its own separate communications facilities. Military policy originates in the party Political Bureau or the party Central Military Commission, became an operational order at the General Staff Department level, flowed through the military regions, and arrived at a main-force unit. Orders to regional forces also passed through the military district (provincial) level.

The People's Liberation Army's insignia consists of a round device with a design of five stars and the Chinese characters "ba-yi" (August 1, the anniversary of the 1927 Nanchang Uprising), surrounded by wheat ears and cog wheels. (Use of the insignia is governed by the 1984 Military Service Law.) The history of the PLA is officially traced to the Nanchang Uprising, when the army started fighting the Kuomintang (KMT) government. To commemorate the uprising, August lst is celebrated as PLA Day.

The PLA is composed of three services -- the Army, Navy and Air Force -- and an independent arm, the Second Artillery Force.

The military area commands (theaters of war) of the PLA are military organizations set up according to the State's administrative divisions, geographical locations, strategic and operational orientations, and operational tasks. Currently, the PLA has seven military area commands, namely, Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

PLA MarchThe PLA has the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), the National Defense University (NDU), and the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT). The AMS is the PLA's highest-level research institute and center of military sciences. The NDU is mainly responsible for the education and training of senior commanding and staff officers and researchers. The NUDT is mainly responsible for the education and training of senior scientists and engineers, and specialized commanding officers.

The PLA's reserve force is a force with its present organizational structure with the reserve personnel as the base and active personnel as the backbone. The reserve force, which is incorporated into the PLA's order of battle, receives military training in peacetime according to relevant regulations, and helps maintain social order, if necessary, in accordance with the law. In wartime, it may be called into active service in pursuance of a State mobilization order.

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