Military Regions / Military Area Commands
A new round of military reforms: the seven military regions were adjusted to five theaters. On February 1, 2016, the five major theaters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army were formally established, and the original seven major military regions were withdrawn. As a result, the Chinese army entered the "age era." The reorganization was part of Chairman Xi’s attempt to curb military factionalism, rendered in Chinese as “mountaintopism” or shantou zhuyi. The CPC Central Committee General Secretary, State President, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping granted military flags and issued orders to the eastern, southern, western, northern, and central theaters.
This adjustment separated the operational command function and the construction management function, put the focus of the joint operations command on the theater, and put the focus of the force construction management on the military services, so that the theater and the military services should perform their duties and responsibilities under the unified leadership of the CMC. The theater will specialize in joint operations and command functions. The theater joint operations command organization can quickly transition to the wartime command state during wartime, without the need to temporarily build a command system, which is conducive to better organizing troops to complete daily combat readiness tasks and commanding troops to conduct military operations.
On February 1, 2016, the founding meeting of the Chinese People's Liberation Army theater was held in the Bayi Building in Beijing. The CPC Central Committee General Secretary, State President, and Central Military Commission Chairman Xi Jinping granted military flags and issued orders to the eastern, southern, western, northern, and central theaters. This is the General Assembly hall.
The transformation of a military zone into a theater of war is based on the general principles governed by the Military Commission, the main battle in the theater, and the construction of the military service. It is determined according to my country's security environment and the missions undertaken by the military. As the sole highest joint operational command organization in this strategic direction, the theater performs the joint operational command function in accordance with the requirements of integration of peace and warfare, normal operation, special operations, and ability to deal with security threats in this strategic direction, maintain peace, and contain wars.
With the completion of the task of adjusting and forming the theater, the original Shenyang Military Region, Beijing Military Region, Lanzhou Military Region, Jinan Military Region, Nanjing Military Region, Guangzhou Military Region, and Chengdu Military Region were revoked. In line with the establishment of theaters, this round of reforms also adjusted and established the military service organs in theaters. Mainly based on some functions and institutions of the original military region organs, it adjusted and formed the theater army organs; based on the navy-related fleet organs, adjusted and established the relevant theater naval organs;
As the number of adjusted theaters has decreased, the geographic area has expanded. Each theater has jurisdiction over 5 to 6 provinces (regions), increasing the depth of battle and resource reserves. Through the adjustment of the Army Group Army, the army forces in each theater are relatively balanced; by integrating the original air force of the military area, the air force of the theater has been strengthened; the three navy fleets of the North Sea, East Sea, and South Sea belong to the three major theaters of North, East, and South. The North Sea Fleet used to be inconvenienced when crossing two military regions.
China's military established five regional commands for its operations on 01 February 2016, President Xi Jinping's latest step in reforming the country's armed forces. State-run China Central Television reported on a ceremony held by the People's Liberation Army to mark the launch of the commands -- what the military calls "battle zones". President Xi Jinping conferred military flags on the commanders of each of the five zones.
The Central Military Commission Reform Work Conference in Beijing on 24-26 November 2015 was a gathering of more than 200 senior government officials and military brass. The CCP decided to implement by 2020 military reforms focusing on three priorities -- consolidating seven military regions into five "battle zones" - new units, to integrate army, navy and air force units; and strengthening the forces in charge of missile, space and cyber warfare, which were of growing importance in modern military conflicts. The Reform Work Conference was initially scheduled to last only a day and a half. But as the reform proposals met with criticism from military officials, the conference was extended to three days.
Before the reforms, there were seven military regions, including the Beijing Military Region, Shenyang Military Region, Jinan Military Region, Lanzhou Military Region, Chengdu Military Region, Guangzhou Military Region and Nanjing Military Region. These regions have now been reclassified into five battle zones (or theater commands), namely the East, West, South, North, and Middle battle zones.
The new battle zones are operational formations, with acqusition functions previously associted with the Military regions, and a prime source of corrution opportunities, now centralized in Beijing. The joint war-fighting commands in geographic zones represented a shift in focus from homeland defense to a more external orientation based on various strategic directions of potential threats. This would help the PLA better focus on external threats, regional power projection, and likely enhance integrated joint operations between the services. Many of the important posts in each region were dominated by army officials. Maintaining firm control over the regions was difficult since they were locally-oriented in terms of procurement and personnel relocation. The Central Military Commission, chaired by Xi, launched a general command unit in December 2015 to control the integrated operations of ground, naval and air forces. The Commission also set up a joint operational command structure for each of the "battle zones". The joint commands overseeing combined army, navy and air force units established within each battle zone.
Experts believe the official establishment of the five "battle zones" marks a historic moment in establishing a united operational system to strengthen the army and better protect China's national security.
"The establishment of united commands for the battle zones marks a significant breakthrough for the Chinese army. The system will ensure more efficient coordination between different units. The Chinese military will therefore acquire stronger combat capabilities. Secondly, different battle zones will have different strategic emphases. The commands will better focus on their own strategic directions so as to better protect China's interests in different areas," said military expert Lou Yaoliang.
China's move to establish five new theater commands is "a breakthrough and a historic step" in setting up a joint battle command system for the military, a PLA Daily commentary said. In the previous commands, the administration and command systems were not managed separately, it said, identifying unclear functions and ineffective joint command systems as institutional barriers to winning wars.
With the new move, the theater commands can enable relatively separate management of the administration and command system and better coordination among different military services, it said. As such, a more efficient command chain for battles can be put into place, according to the commentary. The principle of the Central Military Commission taking charge of overall military administration, theater commands focusing on combat and different military branches pursuing their own development should also be strictly observed, the PLA Daily said.
Shenyang Military Area Command, which is close to North Korea, was one of the seven battle-zone commands and believed to be tasked with coping with contingency plans on the Korean Peninsula. The Shenyang Military Area Command was reclassified as The North "battle zone" with its area of responsibility including the Inner Mongolia region along with China's northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang.
Chinese President Xi Jinping urged breakthroughs in reform of the country's armed forces by 2020, vowing to reorganize the current military administration structure and military command system. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at a meeting on reforming the armed forces which was held from Nov. 24 to 26, 2015.
A new structure was established, in which the CMC takes charge of the overall administration of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese People's Armed Police and the militia and reserve forces; battle zone commands focus on combats; and different military services pursue their own construction, Xi said.
According to Xi, the CMC's "centralized and unified" leadership should be strengthened to ensure that supreme administration and command status belong to the CMC and the CPC Central Committee. Xi cited measures designed to "integrate the administrative system and the joint battle command system," including a general command center for land forces and enabling the CMC to directly administer and command various military departments.
The existing regional military commands would adjusted and regrouped into new battle zone commands supervised by the CMC, Xi said. The reform will establish a three-tier "CMC - battle zone commands - troops" command system and an administration system that runs from CMC through various services to the troops.
China planned to merge four of its seven Military Regions into two in order to better coordinate the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Second Artillery Corps in a future combat environment, Tokyo's Yomiuri Shimbun reported 02 January 2014. The Jinan, Nanjing and Guangzhou Military Regions would be spared, as they focused on the disputed East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. However, the Beijing and Shenyang Military Regions will be merged, as will the Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions, reducing the country's seven military regions to five.
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