Chinese military exercises create records in 2014
(Source: China Military Online) 2014-12-17
BEIJING, December 16 (ChinaMil) -- The year 2014 is about to end soon. In the past year, the Chinese troops kept intensifying military exercises and trainings and created records in both the number and intensity of exercises and trainings over recent years, with words such as "largest", "first" and "high actual-combat level" frequently seen on newspapers.
Experts said that the frequent exercises of the Chinese troops demonstrated not only the resolve and confidence of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to build a strong military, but also its will and capability to safeguard national security and sovereignty.
PLA exercises and trainings see frequent "first" and services and arms create multiple records
There are a lot of highlights in the exercises of the PLA in 2014. In addition to a number of significant "firsts", the participating services and arms also created new records constantly.
The largest-scale and ultra-high-intensity air confrontation in the history of the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) was carried out on the northwestern desert in September this year. Nearly 100 warplanes of three generations were mobilized within a month, and pilots were selected randomly to participate in the confrontation in order to make the training more realistic. Confrontation drills of the PLAAF involving 100 warplanes were frequently carried out afterwards.
In modern warfare, there is no command of the sea without control of the air, so the Chinese troops urgently need to intensify their air-sea coordination capability. Therefore, the PLA Navy (PLAN) and PLAAF aviation element organized the first free air confrontation in middle and late August this year.
Moreover, the PLAN exercised the largest-scale fighter air combat with the strongest confrontation and the highest actual-combat level in its history in October. During the exercise, the aviation elements of the three major fleets competed in the same arena for the first time, and several training records were created, including the first time that different types of fighters were organized for free confrontation under unknown conditions and the first time that airborne command post was set up on early warning airplane to guide strike.
A series of sea-air exercises and trainings push the PLAN to the open sea. The PLAN sailed to the Western Pacific for exercises on December 4 and was monitored by Japanese warplanes when crossing the island chain. There were comments that the PLAN is getting better at using the open sea and vast oceans as the main drill ground and it has become normal for the three major fleets to train on the Western Pacific.
PLAN and PLAAF exercises get in the groove and exercises by the PLA Army and the Second Artillery Force (SAF) constantly set new records too.
The PLA Army held a series of "Firepower-2014" exercises from July 15 to September 24, 2014, involving more than 20,000 officers and men from six major military area commands (MAC). Such a large scale, large number of forces and high actual-combat level were indeed impressive.
As the climax of the military exercises in 2014, the “Joint Operation - 2014” serial military exercises were carried out across the country from May to the end of October, involving the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the SAF, the militia and reserve forces, and some strategic and battle support forces. That was the largest-scale joint actual-troop exercise held by the Chinese military in the new century and was rarely seen in recent years.
It's worth noting that the Chinese military held intensive exercises around August 1. In addition to ten trans-MAC actual-troop and real-ammunition drills of Army units successively held in Gansu and other provinces, the PLA also conducted military exercises on the four major sea areas of the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the Beibu Gulf simultaneously. The PLAN, the PLA Army and the PLAAF all "fired".
According to Zhang Junshe, a researcher of the Naval Military Academic Research Institute, exercises of such a large scale, high frequency and multiple forces were beyond the previous ones, and the frequent exercises demonstrated not only the resolve and confidence of the PLA to build a strong military, but also its will and capability to safeguard national security and sovereignty.
Chinese - foreign joint drills display openness and confidence
In addition to drills and training of PLA services and arms, the Chinese PLA also held more than 30 joint drills and trainings with foreign militaries, during which, a range of advanced weapons, tactics and operational methods were unveiled, fully demonstrating the openness and confidence of the Chinese PLA.
The Chinese and Russian navies held the "Joint Sea - 2014" exercise from May 20 to 26, creating the first climax of the Sino-foreign joint military drills and trainings this year. This exercise was characterized by "openness", during which the participating naval vessels from both sides were mixed in the formations for the first time, the detection and communication devices on the Chinese and Russian warships and warplanes operated simultaneously, reflecting a high level mutual trust.
A fleet composed of the guided missile destroyer Haikou, frigate Yueyang, supply ship Qiandaohu and hospital ship Peace Ark, set sail from Sanya, a port city in south China's Hainan province, on June 9 for Hawaii to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multilateral military exercises. This was the maiden show of the Chinese naval ships in the RIMPAC exercise, and undoubtedly a big event in the PLAN’s joint exercises with foreign navies.
The four Chinese naval ships accomplished joint exercise subjects including tactical maneuvering and maritime search and rescue. Experts generally believed that by sending advanced vessels to participate in the exercise, China expressed its sincerity to strengthen the mutual trust with the navies of other countries.
PLA Army and Air Force also refuse to lag behind in foreign cooperation.
The "Peace Mission - 2014" joint anti-terror military exercise kicked off in a training range in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on August 24. Participating troops from five Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states were mixed in different units.
During the 6-day-long exercise, an array of homemade advanced weapons for ground and air combats were unveiled for the first time, including the latest modified ZTZ-99 main battle tank (MBT) and the reconnaissance strike integration unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The mutual trust among the participating countries is the important foundation for the SCO's joint anti-terrorism military operations.
Elites from the PLA Army and Air Force went to Russia for competitions respectively this year: From July 26 to August 10, the Army's ZTZ-96A tanks joined the tough races in the "Tank Biathlon", while the Air Force's Su-30MKK fighters were competing with their rivals in the "Aviadarts - 2014" from July 22 to 28.
From October to 25, China, Australia and the United States held the first joint training participated by soldiers from Army units of the three countries.
The Chinese and Indian ground forces staged the "Hand-in-Hand - 2014" joint counter-terrorism training in India from November 17 to 25.
Military experts pointed out that the joint drills and trainings with foreign troops benefited the Chinese officers and men significantly. "Joint drills with foreign militaries boost the strategic transformation of the Air Force", they commented.
According to Shen Jinke, spokesperson of the PLAAF, the PLAAF will expand the cooperation with air forces of other countries to enhance its capability of implementing diversified military tasks in a larger space.
PLA drills and trainings emphasize actual-combat confrontation
The joint drills and trainings held in 2014 by the Chinese military surpassed previous years in terms of number and intensity. All these drills and training are much more close to real battles than ever.
Zhang Junshe pointed out in an interview that China's military trainings this year highlighted actual combat and confrontation. Especially, in the ocean-going drills of the PLAN, the complicated battle situations designed on the spot made the drills more difficult, which proved effective for improving the troops' capability of winning in real combats.
Hou Xiaohe, associate professor with the National Defense University (NDU) of the PLA, said that the PLA's drills placed greater emphasis on boosting troops' capability of winning in actual combats, in which new equipment and new operational methods got tested and soldiers' fighting will steeled.
Media commentaries said that the exercises carried out by the Chinese military that cover all services and arms help beef up its capability of carrying out joint operations and enhance its deterrence capacity.
Zhang Junshe pointed out that, while making remarkable achievements, the drills also exposed some weaknesses of the PLA in operational commanding and IT application, and improvements were also needed in strategic delivery, rapid reaction and joint operation.
Hou Xiaohe held that the more problems are exposed, the better. Because only when the PLA addresses those problems in drills will it become more capable to cope with them in real battles.