Chinese PLA's combat readiness is untested since 1979: Military expert
Battle experience is one of the most important features that determines the fate of armed forces
Despite being the world’s largest standing military with over 2.1 million active-duty strength, the People’s Liberation Army, as per Chinese President Xi Jinping is afflicted by the “Peace Disease,” says Bhopinder Singh, a military veteran in his write up in an English daily. He says since taking over as General Secretary and chairmanship of the Central Military Commission (CMS) in 2012, Xi Jingping has transformed PLA in terms of doctrinal, strategic, technological, cultural and on-boarding of weapon platforms.
Writing in Daily Pioneer, Singh, the ex- Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands,maintains that the Chinese army had seen a full theatre-level combat only in the 1950s during the Korean War. In 1979, they were made to pay a heavy price during a war with Vietnam even as the Vietnamese soldiers were far inferior to better equipped, better organised and better trained Chinese soldiers.
The military veteran questions the core spirit of PLA’s fighting abilities. Singh says the perennial concern of ensuring PLA’s loyalty and subservience to the civilian CCP got magnified by the purges initiated against the PLA Generals in the initial Xi years. “The essentiality of unity of command in a Chinese combat unit, at company levels, is always diluted and compromised with the shared command responsibility of the political officers, who are responsible for ensuring the non-military task of loyalty to the party - CCP,” Singh points out.
“A vital chink in the structural formation of the PLA is the relative under-development of the non-commissioned officers, which is invaluable for operational efficacy.” As a contrast, Singh highlights the steel frame of the Indian Army that shone in the Kargil operations was attributable among other things to the junior command that led from the front.
He further says that there is debatable realism about the Chinese claims in cutting-edge military technologies or about the quality of training, restructuring, and command systems. According to Singh, battle experience is one of the most important features that determines the fate of forces.