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People's Liberation Army - Unit Lineages

In combat, individual exploits and personal valor are important, but team effort wins the fight. The Army 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, soldiers fight for their unit colors.

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 has had to win battle honors. As the Army continues to shrink, it is essential that our oldest and most honored organizations remain. As posts close and units inactivate, flags and colors move around to ensure their retention. The term reflagging was coined in the 1980s to describe this phenomenon formerly called a "transfer less personnel and equipment." While such actions have occurred occasionally throughout the Army's history, they increased after World War II as the Army placed more emphasis on retaining units with the most history and honors.

For those who say, "What does it matter?" there is no response, since for those outside the institution unit numbers mean little and their history is unimportant one organization is much the same as any other. But 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.

The first major reflagging actions not tied to divisions came with the adoption of the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) in 1957. Before the adoption of CARS, whenever the nation entered periods of military retrenchment, units were invariably broken up, reorganized, consolidated, or disbanded. During periods of mobilization, large numbers of new units were created. Changes in weapons and techniques of warfare produced new units to replace old ones. As a result, soldiers frequently served in organizations with little or no history, while units with long combat records remained inactive. On 24 January 1957, the Secretary of the Army approved the CARS concept. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER) had designed CARS to provide a flexible regimental structure that would permit perpetuation of unit history and tradition in the new tactical organization of divisions without restricting organizational trends of the future.

The US Army did not begin a formal program for determining lineage and honors until the 1920s. Before that time, considerable confusion existed within the Army about the accepted procedures and methods for determining the prior history of units and their entitlement to battle honors. With the demobilization of the Army following World War I, many distinguished units were lost from the rolls. To avert such problems in the future, the Historical Section of the Army War College assumed responsibility for maintaining historical information about Army units: thus lineage work began.

In the American military, troops are immediately recognized by their distinctive shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI). The shoulder patch originally was authorized for wear by members of units who served with or were attached to the unit. Distinctive Unit Insignia – commonly referred to by Soldiers as “unit crests,” are medal badges worn by US Army Soldiers denoting their specific unit of assignment. Derived from the unit’s coat of arms.

Unlike the US Army, which features eleborate Distinctive Unit Insignia for all manor of units, the People's Liberation Army does not seem to have systematically adopted this practice. But considering the PLA's designation just as a string of digital tools to record the evolution of history would underestimate the power of time. After years of brewing, these ordinary and even boring figures have a special and mellow emotional color. The number of the number was the object that the soldiers pin their memories, feelings, and even "superstition".

The number was a mysterious and familiar number. The "8" in the "Eighth Route Army" and the "4" in the "New Fourth Army" were actually numbers. From the indelible numbers of the number, it was even better to decode the blood lineage of the Chinese military's decades of development, and even touch the emotional context passed down from generation to generation.

After 1949, although no large-scale wars broke out in the country, the emotional significance carried by the number did not weaken. On the one hand, the stories of the war years have been handed down from generation to generation. The experience of going abroad and constantly changing defenses, abolishing, and merging continue to give the designation a unique meaning.

It was precisely because the number had become an important basis in the blood lineage that in the process of rounds of abolition and merger, each unit wants to leave its own number, and does not want to end the history of this number.

Among the choices for the number abolition, the strength and weakness of the different forces were revealed. "If the army behind the designation was strong, it would be difficult to be laid off. Lin Biao's troop was outstanding in the past, so the Fourth Field Army (Northeast Field Army) left the most designations, and there were still 7 in existence.

If the revoked troops were of equal strength, then some other solutions were needed. An interesting example was the 54th Army. It was merged from the original 45th Army and the 44th Army. According to some old soldiers' dictations, the two troops wanted to keep their names. In the end, Zhou Enlai came forward to "settle"-he persuaded both sides to keep a number and eventually merged into 54 troops.

Another special example was the 235 regiment known as "Jinan First regiment". In the "Division Reform Brigade" in 1998, it was changed from the 235th Regiment of the 79th Division of the 27th Army of the Army to the 235th Brigade of the 27th Army of the Army-as you can see, the regimental number was preserved, and the divisional number disappeared This was a very rare phenomenon. For this regiment, this was a great honor, because the history of this designation can be continued; and accordingly, the designation of the 79th division ended the development process.

The history of an army was like the growth history of a recruit. If the clothes were not washed, it was worthless. The whiter the wash, the more patches there are, indicating the more seniority. Regardless of which leader, seeing those historical slogans after going to a unit, feelings would be closer. A recruit recruited to an army with a glorious history of war, under the special aura, would invisibly impose higher demands on himself.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:09:23 ZULU