The thirteen military regions established by 1956 were reduced to eleven in the late 1960s. Those eleven military regions were reduced to seven by 1985-88. The seven military regions were reduced to five military regions as of 01 January 2016.
Military Regions - 1985-2016
|Military Region||Responsible Regions|
|Beijing Military Region||Capital region and northern China|
|Shenyang Military Region||NE China|
|Jinan Military Region||Eastern China (North Sea Fleet)|
|Nanjing Military Region||SE China (Taiwan, East Sea Fleet)|
|Guangzhou Military Region||Southern China (South Sea Fleet)|
|Lanzhou Military Region||Western China (Xinjiang)|
|Chengdu Military Region||SW China (Tibet)|
The commanders of these military regions had operational command operations of most ground forces in their geographical areas. 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. Under each military area command are a number of Army combined corps, units of various arms, logistical support units, and provincial or garrison commands. Their major functions include organizing and coordinating the joint operations and exercises of the ground, naval and air forces in each military area; exercising direct leadership over Party affairs, military training, administration, political work, logistical and armaments support of the Army units under its jurisdiction; and directing the militia, military service, mobilization, civil air defense and battlefield construction work in the military area.
The People's Liberation Army began a modernization effort following the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, which made it clear to China's top commanders that a large and ill-equipped army was not a reliable instrument of national security policy. In May, 1985, China solemnly declared that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) would reduce military personnel by one million. Reapportionment and merger reduced the number of military area commands from eleven to seven. More than 5,900 units above the regimental level were dispersed through dismantling, merging, demoting or reforming.
Since the 1980s, China replaced the regional and field army organization and divided up the nation's troops into 7 Military Regions.
- The Southeast Area (Nanjing Military Region and Guangzhou Military Region): 5 army groups were deployed, numbering about 480,000 in total as of 1998.
- The Northeast Area (Shenyang Military Region): The total strength was approximately 310,000 persons, organized into 5 army groups as of 1998.
- The Southwest Area (Chengdu Military Region): The total manpower amounted to 180,000 persons, composed of 2 army groups as of 1998.
- The Northwest Area (Lanzhou Military Region): Two army groups are deployed in the area, a force numbering more than 220,000 in total as of 1998.
- The Capital Area (Beijing Military Region): The total strength amounted to about 410,000 persons, organized into 6 army groups as of 1998.
- The Strategic Reserve (Jinan Military Region): The total manpower was some 240,000 persons, consisting of 4 army groups as of 1998.
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