Thursday, June 30, 2016

China's Maritime Militia

“The militia represents a useful tool in China’s plan to bloodlessly press its maritime claims, since its frequently civilian appearance allows Beijing to deny its involvement in encounters such as last October’s and exploit the U.S. Navy’s rules of engagement”-  Dr Andrew Erickson 

Since the founding of the PLA in 1927 the militia has been an important instrument to the Chinese high command.  This peasant guerrilla force served primarily as a PLA support in enhancing security in both the heartland and the border regions.   Their contribution in various forms against all PLA’s enemies, foreign and domestic, was well-publicized inside of China.  A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of the People’s Republic was essential especially in late 1960s to mid 1980s when the threat of an all out invasion by the Soviet Union was all consuming to China’s defense calculus. 

Fast forward to today. As the PLA moves away from a general defensive all-out total war to a focused modernization effort on professionalism, and diverse forms of high tech warfare,  it is easy to conclude that the militia is a relic from a bygone era.  This is true in a certain respect, such as boarder security facing the Central and North Asia. The militia's is now replaced by the better armed and trained People’s Armed Police.  However, in China’s “Near Sea” disputes with her neighbors, the maritime militia is an active participant -- they responsible in not only support the PLAN and the Coast Guard but other civilian agencies that have a stake in the dispute.  They are present in several recent maritime incidents.  Until recently, maritime militia’s missions and roles are not researched, but thanks for Dr Andrew Erickson and other academics at the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, we now have a much clearer picture on their significant roles currently being playing out in the South China Sea. 

Here is an example of Dr Erickson's many works,  and fine introduction to this important topic:
Andrew S. Erickson and Conor M. Kennedy, “Chapter 5: China’s Maritime Militia,” in Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, USN (ret.), ed., Becoming a Great “Maritime Power”: A Chinese Dream (Arlington, VA: CNA Corporation, June 2016), 62-83.

An important component of China’s local armed forces is the militia. It supports China’s armed forces in a variety of functions, and is seeing expanded mission roles as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to modernize. While the maritime militia is not a new addition to China’s militia system, it is receiving greater emphasis since China now aspires to become a great maritime power and because maritime disputes in China’s near seas are a growing concern.
No official definition of the maritime militia exists in the many sources the authors examined. However, in late 2012 the Zhoushan garrison commander, Zeng Pengxiang, and the garrison’s Mobilization Office described it concisely: “The Maritime Militia is an irreplaceable mass armed organization not released from production and a component of China’s ocean defense armed forces [that enjoys] low sensitivity and great leeway in maritime rights protection actions.”
The only estimate of the size of the maritime militia obtained during the course of this research was from a source published in 1978, which put the number of personnel at 750,000 on approximately 140,000 craft. In its 2010 defense white paper, China stated that it had 8 million primary militia members nationwide. The maritime militia is a smaller unique subset since it performs many of its missions at sea. However, an accurate number is not available. It is important to note that the maritime militia is distinct from both China’s coastal militia (shore based) and its naval reserve, although some coastal militia units have been transformed into maritime militia units.
History of China’s maritime militia
China’s militia system originated before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power, but the system of making numerous state-supported maritime militias out of the coastal populations was not fully implemented until the Communists began to exercise greater control of the coastline in the 1950s. This segment of China’s population had been relatively isolated from events on land and was subject to Japanese and Nationalist control in the decades before CCP rule was established. The CCP targeted the fishing communities, creating fishing collectives and work units, enacting strict organizational control, and conducting political education.146 Factors motivating and shaping this transformation included:
  • The PLA’s early use of civilian vessels
  • The need to prevent Nationalist Chinese (ROC) incursions along the coast
  • The need to man the maritime militia with fishermen, as there were too few other experienced mariners
  • Confrontations with other states’ fishing and naval vessels, due to the depletion of fishery resources.
  • The need to fish farther from shore, in contested waters.
  • The transformation from coastal defense militias to the at-sea maritime militia
  • Overall trends in militia development, including specialization, emergency response, technological units, and increased orientation towards supporting each of the PLA branches.
The maritime militia has played significant roles in a number of military campaigns and coercive incidents over the years, including:
  • The 1950s support of the PLA’s island seizure campaigns
  • The 1974 seizure of the western portion of the Paracels
  • The 2009 Impeccable incident
  • The 2011 harassment of Vietnam’s survey vessels (Viking II and Binh Minh)
  • The 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff (Tanmen Militia present)
  • The 2014 Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig standoff. …

Monday, June 27, 2016

PR photo of the day: ZTD05 Amphibious Assault Gun on AAAV Chassis in Ramming Speed

But who cares, those "million-man swim" PR photos are the real gem here!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

14th Amphibious Armored Brigade, 31st Group Army, East Theater Command

The 14th conducted a brigade size, live fire, amphibious assault drill last week.  No big deal, that is what they do.  Besides, according to United States Army war College's 2015 study "The Chinese People's Liberation Army in 2025"  (link here)

"Strategic sealift beyond Taiwan is quite limited. China has never possessed a robust capability to transport and land troops under combat  conditions"  (page 217)

Global Security also chimed in on the sealift question  (link here)

First among these limitations is the capability to transport and sustain more than one division of ground troops and equipment by sea or air, according to the US DOD report to Congress on China's military [down from three four decades earlier]. The PLA Navy’s total amphibious lift capacity was estimated in 2009 to be one infantry division of approximately 10,000 troops and equipment at one time.

Or as Patrick Tyler correctly pointed out in his NYT article (link here)

If China has learned anything in decades of conflict with Taiwan, it is that an all-out invasion of Taiwan is well beyond its capabilities. The joke commonly heard among Western military experts is that a Chinese assault on Taiwan would have to be called ''the million man swim.'' 

To perform this historic "million man swim"  the PLA could call up their two Marine Brigades, two Amphibious Mech Infantry Divisions (the 1st of the 1st Group Army, and the 124th of the 42nd Group Army) and every unit of the 1st, 12th, 31st, 41st and 42nd Group Army of the East Theater Command.  No worries, they will be dressed up but with no boat to go.

Click on the vid below to see the amphibious assault drill

PLAN commission of the day: The fourth Type052D DDG

DDG175 was launched 15 months ago and after a prolonged period of Sea Trial, The Yinchuan is now ready to join her 3 sisters already in the South Sea Fleet

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Run loud, Run Shallow

Just a few days after unveiling the new Type 093B Shang Class SSN to the public (Our friend Jeffrey Lin has a good write-up on this new sub here), a Type 093A and her entourage just sail across the Strait of Malacca in broad daylight while singing "we are not hiding anymore" along the way.  

You go girl.

 SSN-409Shang class, FFG571Yun Cheng and ASR863 Yongxingdao  photographed while crossing the Strait of Malacca

Here are the first publicly released photos of Type 093B Shang Class SSN, her new toys included vertically launched cruise missiles for both sea and land targets (the module right behind the conning tower) and the bulging flank sonars (red circles below)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Photos of the day: 16th Landing Ship Squadron, 6th Landing Ship Flotilla, South Sea Fleet in action.

On June 22nd, a task force from the 6th Landing Ship Flotilla conducted a "Blue vs Red" confrontation exercise.  The task force was greeted by "Aircraft, missiles, submarines" of the bad guy "red army" upon arrival of an undisclosed area off South China Sea forcing it to launch the marine shore party under attack.

Here are their action photos.  Please note that "Good Guy's" air cover and other supporting elements were removed from this PR set for OpSec reasons.  I personally don't see what is the big deal.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Photos of the day: China opens a new MOUT/Anti Terror training center in Tibet.

For both PLA and PAP.  Yup, they are getting serious about those pesky terrorists on China's borderland

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Photos of the day: PLAN Marine anti-terror training pics

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Send In the PLAN Marine

Shortly after the passage of new law authorizing the PLA to conduct counter-terrorism operations overseas, the PLAN marine now heads to Xinjing for some baptism of fire under "desert conditions".    Coincidence?

Chinese marines leave for military training in Xinjiang
Source: XinhuaEditor: Dong Zhaohui
2016-01-02 16:250

GUANGZHOU, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Chinese marines will be deployed in the next few days to a training base in northwest China's Xinjiang to begin their first military exercise of 2016.

As the Chinese military expands its training sites and conditions, the Xinjiang base gives troops a real combat situation under desert conditions.

Previous drills were conducted at a training base in north China's Inner Mongolia, cold regions in northeast China, and in highland jungles.

The drill will improve troops' fighting abilities "in a wider area, a larger space and in a more complicated environment," said a military source.

The soldiers will be transported via a 5,900-kilometer route from southern province of Guangdong to Xinjiang by train, air or truck. Their mobilization, desert combat tactics and coordination will be tested, and they will also carry out a combat exercise with an infantry division of the Lanzhou Military Area Command.

Photos from last year's Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) drill

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Law Allows PLA to Undertake Counterterror Missions Overseas

China's new counter-terrorism law has made it legal for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to participate in counterterror missions overseas.
The PLA and the country's armed police forces may carry out such operations with the approval from the Central Military Commission, says the law adopted by top legislature on Sunday.
Public security and national security authorities may also send personnel overseas for counter-terrorism missions, with the approval from the State Council and agreements from concerned countries.
The law also stipulates that related departments, authorized by the State Council, may collaborate with overseas governments and international organizations in holding policy dialogues, communicating on intelligence information, enforcing the law and regulating international capitals.
The new law comes at a delicate time for China and for the world at large - terror attacks in Paris, the bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt, and the brutal killings of hostages committed by the notorious Islamic State (IS) extremist group are alerting the world about an ever-growing threat of terrorism.
It will provide legal support to the country's counter-terrorism activities as well as collaboration with the international society, said An Weixing, an official with the public security ministry, at Sunday's press conference.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

PLA "Thunder Run"

In a scene that reminisces the US Army Third Infantry Division's drive to Baghdad in April 2003, a mechanized brigade, 20th Group Army, Jinan Military Region conducts its own "Thunder Run" to test its armor thrust in a MOUT. It is a good attempt. However, it is somewhat difficult to imagine any "island" city has this type of wide open boulevard or the Type92/WZ551 IFV would stand as well against RPGs as the US M2.

Another way to look at it -- being the PLA has its perks -- it can conduct this type of large scale MOUT exercise without worrying about lawsuits.

US Army Task Force 1-64

CCTV report 11/6/2010