81st Group Army
The 81st Group Army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army is affiliated to the Army in the Central Theater and is stationed in Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province.
The group army comprises various modern units such as infantry, artillery, armored signal, antichemical warfare, engineer, air defense, air, and electronic countermeasure units. Though Group Armies often are considered to be corps-sized units, in reality they control many fewer personnel and units than do corps in the US military. A group army with an all brigade maneuver force would be more comparable to a US division than a corps. After the reductions of the late 1990s, the variation in group army structure has increased considerably from previous years. In the 1990s, a Group Army could vary in size from 65,000 to 100,000+ personneL, but by 2020 the totals were about half these numbers.
The 81st Army of the Army, formed in 2017, has jurisdiction over:
- 7th Heavy Combined-Arms Brigade
- 194th Heavy Combined-Arms Brigade
- 195th Heavy Combined-Arms Brigade
- 162nd Medium Combined-Arms Brigade
- 188th Medium Combined-Arms Brigade
- 70th Light Brigade
- 81st Special Operations Brigade
- 81st Artillery Brigade
- 81st Air Defense Brigade
- 81st Brigade
- 81st Army Air Route Brigade
- 81st Service Support Brigade
The official English version of the 2013 "China National Defense White Paper" does not use the term "group army", but refers to China's "combined corps". The State Council Information Office, April 2013 release "Diversified Employment at The Armed Forces of China" stated: "The PLAA mobile operational units include 18 combined corps , plus additional independent combined operational divisions (brigades), and have a total strength of 850,000. The combined corps , composed of divisions and brigades, are respectively under the seven military area commands (MACs)". By force of custom, these units are still called Group Armies.
The group armies are the main part of the PLA. In November 2015, the Central Military Commission held a three-day PLA reform meeting in Beijing, during which President Xi Jinping, also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, gave guidelines on reform. After the reshuffle, the People's Liberation Army was regrouped into five new theater commands to replace the former seven military area commands. China announced a military reshuffle with 84 newly adjusted or established corps-level units. The change in designation is significant. In the past, armies only included the PLA army, but in the future, the air force, navy and Rocket Forces will also be included in the group armies and given a new designation. The previous 18 group armies have been reorganized into 13 new ones. All major combat units of the PLA follow a group army-brigade-battalion system.
In 2017, based on the existing 18 Group Armies were adjusted, 13 Group Armies and formed. China's military established five Theater Commands for its operations on 01 February 2016, realigning forces previously distributed under 7 Military Regions. In this round of deepening national defense and military reforms, after the establishment of the army's leading institutions and theaters, in accordance with the principle of "the general management of the military commission, the theater's main battle, and the service's construction", the 18 group armies that previously belonged to the original seven military regions were reassigned to each theater. On 27 April 2017 the Central Military Commission decision adjust the formation of the original 18 Group Armies into 13 newly formed Group Armies. with each of the five Theater Commands. After adjustment, the army forces in each theater had jurisdiction over 2 to 3 Group Armies that are relatively balanced.
The new Group Armies are new units without prior history, rather than a simple renumbering of units that otherwise retained their unit history. The authors of wikipedia mistakenly report that the new Group Armies are redesignations of existing units. For instance, it is reported that "The 78th Group Army ... was established in 2017, by seemingly a redesignation of the former 16th Group Army." But the legacy Group Armies had survived a variety of reshuffles prior to 2017, and if the intent had simply been to tidy up the organzation charts the legacy unit designation could have been preserved, which it was not.
In combat, individual exploits and personal valor are important, but team effort wins the fight. The military pays close attention to team performance, to the organizations in which its soldiers serve and fight, and to the flags and colors that symbolize those organizations. In the same way that patriots fight for their country's flag, in many Armies of the world, soldiers fight for their unit colors. The older an organization, the more soldiers, both active and retired, had the opportunity of serving in and identifying with it and the more opportunities the organization had to win battle honors. In the US Army the term reflagging was coined in the 1980s to describe the phenomenon formerly called a "transfer less personnel and equipment." For those soldiers who have served in the "Big Red One," the "Wolfhounds," or "The Blackhorse Regiment," unit pride is very much a part of their lives. In the US Army, the adoption of the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) in 1957 to provide a flexible regimental structure that would permit perpetuation of unit history and tradition.
But this is precively contrary to the reforms of 2015-2017, the intent of which was to completely reboot the upper echelons of the Chinese military. The PLA did not have well established patterns of rotating officers among commands, unlike the US military which has long rotated officers every few years to avoid the emergence of local cliques. Instead, an officer might spend his entire career in series of vertial promotions within the same geographic unit. The 2015-2017 aimed to break up this pattern, which would help to defeat strutures of corruption and nepotism, as well as establish an officer corps and command struture that clearly owed its position [and loyalty] to Chairman Xi Jinping.
The units that have been awarded the honorary title are:
- Red First Division : Former Army Sixty-fifth Army Infantry No. 193rd Division
- Model Company for Grassroots Construction : Former Army Sixty-fifth Army Infantry 193rd Division Armored Infantry Battalion Third Company
- Tai'an Company : A company of a brigade of the 27th Army of the former Army. Transferred to the 81st Army of the Army in 2017
- Tiger Division : Former Army 162nd Division
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|