Group Armies / Combined Corps
For decades, the Chinese People's Liberation Army used the terms "a certain group army", "a certain division" and "a certain regiment" when publishing information to the outside world, based on confidentiality requirements. However, with the development of the Internet and the rapid advancement of science and technology, traditional military secrets such as the group army designation have gradually lost their confidentiality function. The location and number of the Army Group have been relatively fixed for decades, and there have been many exchanges between the army and the region. With the addition of a batch of veterans to retire and integrate into the society, the Army Group number has long become an "open secret."
The disclosure of the Army Group Army designation this time is also the need for the Chinese army to become more confident and demonstrate military transparency. Over the years, politicians and irresponsible media from some Western countries have attacked China, accusing China of being opaque and often confusing and misleading the public opinion along with the so-called "China threat theory." If China wants to listen to the world, it must gradually increase military transparency, and publicizing its name is one of the important measures.
The Chinese Army is moving from the "Continental Army" era into the "Strong Army" era. The Group Armies comprise the basic combat organization, and were largest PLA tactical formation. A Chinese army equates approximately to a US corps. A People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) Group Army had anywhere from 45,000 to 60,000 men. A Group Army consists of several combined brigades, and the brigade was composed of several combined battalions.
The Group Army mission in the first echelon is to destroy enemy resistance on the forward edge of the battle area (FEBA) and create gaps large enough to permit the deployment of front exploitation forces - usually a tank force of the second echelon - or to penetrate and exploit immediate successes themselves. The Group Army is expected to advance far enough in the first few days to destroy the continuity of enemy tactical defenses, including the corps reserves. The Group Army is motorized rifle heavy and thus would be the most likely force to attack well-prepared defensive positions, consisting of antitank defenses. The Chinese studied the 1973 Middle East War very carefully and concluded pure tank forces were very susceptible to modern antitank guided missile systems. In 2003, 200,000 troops were disarmed. The 23rd, 24th, and 63rd Army Groups were revoked. The total number of People's Liberation Army troops was reduced to 2.3 million, and the number of Army Groups was reduced to 18. On April 16, 2013, China released the white paper "Diversified Use of Chinese Armed Forces", which for the first time announced the numbers of the 18 Army Corps of the Chinese Army. Since then, the Chinese Army has carried out several reforms on the road to modernization. At most, there are 61 troops. After five streamlining and reorganization, it has reached the lowest value in history.
The People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) disbanded 5 of its 18 Group Armies in a 2017 reorganization intended to transform the force into a more agile combat organization able to respond rapidly to military crises involving the United States and Japan. This overhaul was begun by President Xi Jinping, Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Units to be disbanded included the 20th and 27th Group Armies in the Central Theater Command responsible for the defense of Beijing; the 14th Group Army in the Chengdu Military Region in the southwest; the 16th Group Army in the Shenyang Military Region in the north bordering North Korea and the 47th Group Army in the Lanzhou Military Region in the west bordering India. Over 200,000 troops would be affected by the loss of the five Group Armies. Most of these troops were expected to be mustered out of the Army, while a few remaining would be reassigned to other services.
After the Central Military Commission decided to adjust the formation of 13 army groups based on the original 18 army groups, the affiliation between the newly formed army groups and the army in each theater was gradually disclosed through official media reports. After adjustment, the army forces in each theater that had jurisdiction over 2 to 3 group armies were relatively balanced.
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. Army leader. Among them, the former Nanjing Military Region 1st, 12th and 31st Army Groups belonged to the Eastern Theater Army, the former Chengdu Military Region 14th Group Army and the former Guangzhou Military Region 41st and 42th Army Groups belonged to the Southern Theater Army, the former Chengdu Military Region 13th Army Group and the former Lanzhou Military Region 21st, The 47th Army was attached to the Western Theater Army, the former Shenyang Military Region 16, 39, 40 Army and the former Jinan Military Region 26th Army to the Northern Theater Army, the former Jinan 20th and 54th Army, and the former Beijing Military Region 27, 38, 65 Army to the Central Theater Army.
After adjusting their affiliation at the "above the neck" stage, the five major theater armies each had 3 to 5 group armies, the largest being the central theater armies that had 5 group armies. After entering the "below the neck" reform phase, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense announced on April 27, 2017: The Central Military Commission decided to adjust and form 13 group army based on the original 18 group army. The designations of these 13 army groups were the 71st Army to the 83rd Army.
After this adjustment and reform, the army forces in the theaters at the intersection of "main battle" and "main construction" were relatively balanced, with two or three newly formed army groups under each jurisdiction. The surging news successively determined from the news reports of military authoritative media. The affiliation between the 13 newly formed group army and the theater army was as follows: Groups 71, 72, 73 belong to the Eastern Theater Army, and groups 74, 75 belong to the Southern Theater Army, the 76th and 77th Army were attached to the Western Theater Army, the 78th, 79th and 80th Army were attached to the Northern Theater Army, and the 81st, 82th and 83rd Army were attached to the Central Theater Army.
PLA Group Armies & headquarters - April 2017
|Eastern Theater Command||Nanjing, Jiangsu|
|TC Ground Force||Fuzhou, Fujian|
|71st Group Army||Xuzhou, Jiangsu||12th Group Army|
|72nd Group Army||Huzhou, Zhejiang||1st Group Army|
|73rd Group Army||Xiamen, Fujian||31st Group Army|
|Southern Theater Command||Guangzhou, Guangdong|
|TC Ground Force||Nanning, Guangxi|
|74th Group Army||Huizhou, Guangdong||42nd Group Army|
|75th Group Army||Kunming, Yunnan||41st Group Army|
|Western Theater Command||Chengdu, Sichuan|
|TC Ground Force||Lanzhou, Gansu|
|76th Group Army||Xining, Qinghai||21st Group Army|
|77th Group Army||Chongqing||13th Group Army)|
|Northern Theater Command||Shenyang, Liaoning|
|TC Ground Force||Jinan, Shandong|
|78th Group Army||Harbin, Heilongjiang||16th Group Army|
|79th Group Army||Shenyang, Liaoning||39th Group Army|
|80th Group Army||Weifang, Shandong||26th Group Army|
|Central Theater Command||Beijing|
|TC Ground Force||Shijiazhuang, Hebei|
|81st Group Army||Shijiazhuang, Hebei||65th Group Army|
|82nd Group Army||Baoding, Hebei||38th Group Army|
|83rd Group Army||Xinxiang, Henan||54th Group Army|
|none||disbanded||14th Group Army|
|none||disbanded||20th Group Army|
|none||disbanded||27th Group Army|
|none||disbanded||40th Group Army|
|none||disbanded||47th Group Army|
The reassignment of the new group army number is quite interesting from the outside analysis: First, after several streamlinings, the 18 group army numbers are not connected to each other from 1 to 65. The new numbers announced this time are connected to each other from the beginning of the seventy-one to eighty-three, and the military reform group military number has also adhered to the leadership of the party from the beginning of the seventy-one, indicating that the Chinese army started a new beginning. The second is how the 71 armies can avoid the question of which number to keep, and avoid the idea of the various army groups competing to keep their own number; the third is the previous 18 group army number, which is the lion powerhouse after the baptism of the war after the army was established, and if it is reorganized, the new number can only start from the seventy-one or more, which avoids the overlap with the old names in the past.
This raised the interesting question of how, if at all, the abolished Group Armies were to be related to the new Group Armies. Some commentators [eg, Chinese Wikipedia] had chosen to treat the new Group Armies as the lineal successors to earlier Group Armies, some with histories stretching back nearly a century. Possibly there was precedent for this in Chinese practice, but the results had the air of those elaborately forged geneologies used to justify claims to the throne of Scotland seen in Braveheart. The older an organization, the more soldiers, both active and retired, have 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 how as posts close and units inactivate, flags and colors move around to ensure the perpetuation of unit history and tradition. But the 2017 reorganization appears to have had the opposite intent, to sever whatever relationship might have existed with pre-existing formations.
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.
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