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The PLAAF chain of command is organized into four levels -- Headquarters Air Force (HqAF), Military Region Air Forces (MRAF), Air Corps/Command Posts, and operational units (Figure 1). Within the MRAFs, there are basically three  types of elements - headquarters (jiguan), units (budui), and directly subordinate units (zhishu budui). The administrative structure at HqAF is mirrored throughout the other three levels. While the Military Region commander is responsible for combined operations, the MRAF commander is responsible for aviation and air defense operations. The seven MRAFs are Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Jinan, and Chengdu (See Map).                           




The command staff (jiguan/lingdao jiguan) at all levels from the MRAF Headquarters to the regiment consists of the following personnel:

 - Commander

- Political commissar

- Deputy political commissar (if there is one)

- Deputy commanders)

- Chief of staff (Director, Headquarters Department)

- Director, Political Department/Division

- Director, Logistics organization

- Director, Maintenance organization


These members make up the Party Standing Committee, of which the political commissar is usually the secretary. Other members of the Party Committee include the commander and political director from each subordinate unit. 


The Headquarters, Political, and Logistics Departments at HqAF, plus most of their subordinate second level elements, are represented at each of the administrative levels below HqAF -- MRAF Headquarters, Air Corps/Command Posts, and operational units. In general, the administrative structure at the MRAF and Air Corps Headquarters is the same. While these three first level departments, along with the Aeronautical Engineering Department, remain as departments at the MRAF and Air Corps levels, HqAF's second level departments are reduced by one step at each level below HqAF. For example, each department (bu) becomes a division (chu), and each division becomes an office (ke). 

At the operational unit (budui) level, there is a Headquarters Department (siting bu), Political Department/Division (zhengzhi bu/chu), Logistics Department/Division (houqin bu/chu) or Field Station (changzhan), and Maintenance Division (jiwu chu/jishu chu). The chief of staff, who is also the director of the Headquarters Department, and the director of the Political Department are co-equals at each of these levels. In some cases, the deputy political commissar, if there is one, is also the director of the Political Department/Division.

 Below these first level administrative elements, there is a further reduction of the second level elements into offices (shi/ke), sections (zu), or branches (gu). There are also operational elements such as groups (dadui), squadrons (zhongdui), battalions lying), companies (lian), platoons (pai), squads (ban), or flights (fendui), which carry out the tasks. 

One of the major differences between aviation (hangkong bing) and non-aviation units is the maintenance administrative organization. At the HqAF, MRAF, and Air Corps levels, the Aeronautical Engineering Department (hangkong gongcheng bu) is administratively responsible for aviation maintenance and the Logistics Department is responsible for non-aviation (SAM, AAA, radar, and communications) maintenance. These should not be confused, however, with the Technical Support Divisions (jishu qinwu chu/jiqin chu) within the Headquarters Department's AAA, SAM, Radar, and Communications Departments/ Divisions at the HqAF, MRAF, and Air Corps levels, which are responsible for the technical and operational details of these systems. 

At the unit level, the terms jiwu and jishu are used to differentiate between aviation and non-aviation maintenance, respectively. For the aviation troops, the maintenance organization at an air division/base is the Aircraft Maintenance Division (jiwu chu), and at an air regiment it is the Aircraft Maintenance Group (jiwu dadui). For SAM and AAA troops, there is a Maintenance Department (jishu bu) at the brigade level and a Maintenance Division (jishu chu) at the regiment level. All of the above maintenance elements are co-equals with their counterpart logistics elements. However, at a communications regiment, the Logistics Division (houqin chu) is responsible for maintenance, since communications regiments do not have a Maintenance Division.               


From 1987-1988, all of the MRAF commanders also became Military Region Deputy Commanders. While the Military Region commander is responsible for combined operations, the MRAF commander is responsible for aviation and air defense operations. In fact, the MRAF commanders actually wear two uniforms. They wear an Army uniform when they are conducting duties as the Military Region deputy commander, and they wear an Air Force uniform when they are conducting Air Force duties. 

There is a Command Post (zhihuisuo), which is best translated as an operations centers, at HqAF, each MRAF Hq, each Air Corps, each Command Post (zhihuisuo, such as the Dalian Command Post), and each operational SAM, AAA, aviation, and radar unit down to the regiment level. The operations center, which is separate from the administrative Operations Department/Division (zuozhan bu/chu), is part of the Headquarters Department and comes under the chief of staff. One of the deputy commanders or deputy chiefs of staff is the duty officer on a rotational basis, and the people who work in the command post include at least one representative from each of the second level administrative departments within the four first level departments.



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