Chinese service members in different posts during Spring Festival

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2024-02-07 11:34:06

West | Time is not enough, so I have to push myself more

By Ma Jialong

Fighter jet attached to a brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command taxis on the runway. (Photo by Wei Zhenxing)

Shen Hao, who is serving in a brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command, has a nickname of "never-ending seeker".

Shen cherishes every minute on the training grounds and makes the most of the time of every sortie. As an instructor, he conducts pre-flight preparation carefully and makes sure that every pilot is acquainted with the technical tactics, subject requirements, key and difficult points and risks involved in the flights. Also, they repeatedly simulate collaborative operations in ground drills.

At the onset of 2023, every pilot in the brigade had a blueprint for the annual capability upgrade in mind. Faced with the competence requirements, they all felt the same, "Time is not enough. I have to push myself more."

To quickly improve the combat capability of the new equipment, Shen and his comrades often spontaneously trained on the simulation aircraft to enhance the coordination of personnel, aircraft and ammunition. On days when there is no flight training, the simulation aircraft is still almost always occupied. Every day of extra painstaking efforts built up substantial accomplishments over the past year. "Our brigade had achieved all the goals by October 2023," Shen Hao said.

Looking back on the footprints for the past year, Shen was most impressed by an unusual joint training conducted at a shooting range in northwest China.

During the training, under the direction of the forward guides assigned to a brigade  of the army under the PLA Western Theater Command, the fighter aircraft quickly burst into the battlefield under the fire cover of the ground troops, and assisted them to destroy targets and evacuate smoothly.

In a previous cooperative training with the army troops, the fighter aircraft of the brigade circled over the targets for a long time before capturing it, and the joint fire strike did not achieve the desired result. To solve the problem of poor communication between the forward guides and the pilots, they explored a new joint training mode, that is, the pilots participate in the training of the forward guides and help the army team members to deeply understand the flying methods, communication process and standard terminology, so as to boost the collaboration between the commanding officers, pilots and guides.

After a period of joint training, those army guides are getting more and more familiar with air force operations, and the ground-air joint fire strikes have become more and more effective.

"In 2024, I hope I can train more excellent tower controllers to work with commanding officers and improve our capabilities." Shen Hao shared his goals for the new year,  full of confidence.

Central | Being fortunate's favorite, we'd strive harder

By Peng Bingjie

A unit of the army under the PLA Central Theater Command carries out air-ground coordination training. (Photo by Xu Junqiang)

He Lei, a young staff officer assigned to an army unit under the PLA Central Theater Command, looks calm and restrained from his appearance. "Embracing and actively adapting to changes" is his wish for the new year.

In the summer of 2023, a gust of raging wind carried the deafening roar of a helicopter that was hovering in the air. After four pieces of ropes hung down, the commandos quickly left the cabin and landed in a slick and effective manner. "The first one, he was a pilot," a man introduced He Lei's past.

In June 2021, He Lei, who was then a pilot, submitted his application to join the assault infantry company. "To expedite air and ground integration, there must be someone who dares to make breakthrough. Why not me?" This was what he thought at that time.

From a pilot to an infantry company commander and then to a staff officer of the organ, He Lei experienced three positions in just over two years. However, in his eyes, his battle position has never changed: "I work for transformation and strive for the rise of the army."

During a red-blue force-on-force exercise, He Lei, as an infantry company commander, led his team to control key points. The blue stronghold was a 10-storey building, but the roof platform was narrow with a width of only half that of the helicopter, leading to extremely high risk of high-altitude rope rappelling. "Shall I jump?" After much hesitation, He Lei finally decided to give it a try. He confirmed with the helicopter pilot over the hover height and timing, and exhorted the commandos to pay attention to action details and tactical cooperation.

The ropes shook violently in the wind when the hatch opened. He Lei first leaped down and reached the roof and guided the team members to complete the task ultimately.

"Were you scared then?"

"I was more scared than anyone when making the first attempt. But if I fear all the time, the new combat power can hardly be formed," he explained.

During an air-ground cooperative training, He Lei proposed an increase in difficulty after completing the scheduled courses to boldly try new tactics and set a nighttime fast-roping record of a certain type of aircraft. That day was only less than a year after he acted as the infantry company commander.

From a pilot proficient in flight technologies to a talent in new-type combats also familiar with the operation characteristics of ground units, the young company commander has introduced new combat methods and fresh combat capabilities.

He Lei has now ushered in new challenges in his new post: "The organ affairs are complex and involve various operation characteristics and competency levels across multiple military services, so I am squeezing time to learn and recharge myself every day."

"Our generation is fortunate, and we should strive even harder," He Lei said.

East | "I can't live without it

By Xiang Liming

A submarine unit of the navy under the PLA Eastern Theater Command is cutting through the waves. (Photo by Chen Zesheng)

At the end of 2023, a submarine unit of the navy under the PLA Eastern Theater Command won a collective third-class merit citation.

Many years ago, Wang Qingyao failed to adapt to the submarine tasks and work places as a freshman. He passed his first professional exam just narrowly touching the threshold. Until during a maritime mission, he encountered a sudden submarine diesel engine failure and would be unable to arrive at the mission waters as required if the problem was not resolved in time.

Wang Qingyao and his comrades spent more than 10 hours inspecting and repairing the device in a cabin of more than 45 degrees Celsius. When the diesel engine successfully restarted, they slumped on the ground with exhaustion but laughed joyfully.

"It suddenly struck me that the sound of a diesel engine is the most beautiful sound in the world." It was then that Wang Qingyao reflected on the responsibilities on his shoulders."For the rest of my life, I'll dedicate myself to submarines!"

Wang Qingyao has become a core professional now. Under the water away from the land and with no sight of sunlight, many submarine officers and soldiers like Wang Qingyao have moments of confusion during their journey of growth, but they become more resolute with each dive.

When asked about his new year's wishes, Wang Qingyao replied after a thought: "I hope I can sail faster and farther with this buzzing big machine! It's not that it can't do without me, but I can't live without it."

As witnesses to the journey of building a strong military, Wang Qingyao and his comrades increasingly feel the need for urgency, speed and strength. As the Spring Festival approaches, Wang Qingyao and his comrade-in-arms wish to be more confident in professional skills and gain more actual combat capabilities in the new year.

The Chinese submarine servicemen often say, "Soldiers are born to win the fighting, and every drop of blood of the submarine soldiers will flow into the sea of the motherland."

The Submarine Song sings like this, "Don't ask me where I am. I can't tell you because of my duty. We are submariners of the Chinese Navy sailing in the deep ocean..."

South | "I hope to be like my master one day"

By Chen Xiaojie

The maintenance men assigned to the air force of the PLA Southern Theater Command repair the equipment. (Photo by Lyu Shiqiang)

Pilots are the center of attention in the vast airports. As support personnel, Feng Jizhen usually stays behind the scenes.

What is the proportioning of the cement on the airport runways? Which parts of the pavement have been repaired or are uneven? How to repair the damaged pavement without affecting the bearing capacity? After years of working as an airport keeper, Feng Jizhen has become an expert in runway maintenance.

He is always the first to enter the airport in the morning and stays in the outfield for pavement inspection between flights during the day, and then checks the runways upon the end of flight at night. Ensuring the safe arrival and departure of every fighter aircraft is the duty and also the most gratifying feedback to Feng and his comrades.

The pace of work at the airport has increasingly accelerated in recent years, and it is common for the next task to start before the previous one has finished. The number of runways, size of the flight area, number of sorties and joint training units have all increased significantly.

To adapt to new task requirements, Feng Jizeng worked overtime to learn new skills such as emergency repair and construction, mobile barrier net erection, emergency takeoff and landing belt establishment and emergency airport support. In October 2023, he led his comrades in studying the multi-functional mobile pavement repair vehicles.

"Any wishes for the new year?" the reporter asked.

"Train the soldiers in the squad and empower everyone to work independently, preferably to acquire proficiency in multiple fields," Feng Jizhen said.

"What about your expectations for yourself?"

"I hope to be like my master one day."

Feng's master Li Fenglong has worked at the airport for more than 20 years and completed countless flight support tasks. His summarized working methods and refitted equipment have even been adopted by the whole Air Force. There is a column with the names of support pioneers listed on the wall of the airport company. Beside Li's photo bedecked with medals is a blank photo frame with the words –"Who's next?" – in the middle. When passing this wall, Feng Jizhen always encourages himself to make faster progress.

In 2023, Feng Jizhen won the title of "Logistics Pioneer of the Air Force with the PLA Southern Theater Command" on the recommendation of the unit. In Feng's eyes, the moment when the fighter lifts off is the most beautiful, and the airport under the lights at night is the most touching.

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