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David M. Finkelstein
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More than five years into an unprecedented series of reorganizations and systemic reforms, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is now armed with new joint doctrine. On November 13, 2020, the Xinhua News Agency announced that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) Central Military Commission (CMC) had issued the Guidelines on Joint Operations of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Trial) — hereafter, Guidelines.

The promulgation of this document speaks to the core of what the PLA aspires to achieve as an operational outcome of the military reform enterprise that was launched on December 31, 2015. Specifically, the PLA seeks to become a force capable of prosecuting “integrated joint operations” in multiple battlespace domains in an era of information-centric warfare and future intelligent warfare. This latest conception of how the PLA should fight as a joint force has served as one of the drivers for some of the most notable organizational changes in the PRC armed forces to date. These include the following:

  • Establishing a Joint Staff Department under the Central Military Commission
    Replacing the seven legacy military regions with five joint theater commands
    Realigning command and control authorities at the national and theater levels
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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited.


  • Pages: 64
  • Document Number: DOP-2021-U-030643-Final
  • Publication Date: 9/1/2021
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