PLA group armies to get greater role

Source
Global Times
Editor
Yao Jianing
Time
2017-04-25

Air force, navy, Rocket Forces to be included in group armies: expert

A largely overlooked official report has uncovered the latest changes in China's group armies, which suggests the groups will consist of different corps in the future, experts said.

The 76th Group Army is the newest designation of China's group armies made public after China announced a military reshuffle with 84 newly adjusted or established corps-level units, news site caixin.com reported.

A notice released by the government of Gaotai county, Northwest China's Gansu Province on April 18 said Wang Kai, vice chief-of-staff of the Western Theater Command of People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Cao Junzhang, the vice commander of PLA's 76th Group Army, visited a local Red Army museum.

Both Wang and Cao are from the 13th Group army which used to be part of the former Chengdu Military Region, caixin.com reported.

"The change in designation is significant. In the past, armies only included the PLA army, but in the future, the air force, navy and Rocket Forces will also be included in the group armies and given a new designation," Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the Second Artillery Corps (now known as the PLA Rocket Force), told the Global Times on Monday.

The previous designation, which only belonged to the army, is not suitable for the new group army, and the new group armies will be considered a big unit command during war, Song said.

This will fundamentally change the structure of China's military, according to Song.

The group armies are the main part of the PLA, and its structure, duty and combat capabilities will be changed significantly after this reform, but the reform takes time, and the change in designation is just the first step, Song elaborated.

The reform is not limited to the PLA Army. An anonymous PLA Navy officer told the Global Times that the 1st Group Army's 1st Division will be commissioned in the PLA Navy's Marine Corps, and this division will be in charge of offensives after Marine landing operations.

The Global Times has received no official confirmation of this information.

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