PLA to step up war preparedness as military exercises 'have become a show'
Xu Qiliang, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, promises to forge elite troops as territorial disputes escalate
The People's Liberation Army must rid itself of deep-seated habits, cultivated within the military by decades of peace, in order to prepare for war at a moment's notice, the mouthpiece of the armed forces reported yesterday.
The PLA Daily ran an article yesterday highlighting problems found during a military review on Wednesday of three recent drills in Inner Mongolia involving an unnamed artillery brigade with the 38th Army Corps, which is affiliated with the Beijing Military Command.
One of the problems was that the unit allocated food based on the length of the drill and number of participants, without bringing extra provisions in case of bad weather. Troops also used all the ammunition after a drill without reserving any for a possible ambush on their way back to camp.
"After a long period of peace … some troops have little awareness of war, and their exercises are no longer realistic. They have become a show," the PLA Daily warned.
This came as Xinhua reported yesterday that General Xu Qiliang , vice-chairman of the PLA's top decision-making body, the Central Military Commission, pledged to forge a number of elite troops to safeguard the country's sovereignty and safety when needed. The promise came during Xu's recent fact-finding trip to Luoyang city in Henan province and Qingdao in Shandong province, which are under the Jinan Military Command.
There have also been stepped-up calls by state media for war preparedness, after the party's new general secretary, Xi Jinping , stressed the importance of using military drills to prepare for war, and amid escalating tensions between China and Japan because of a territorial dispute in the East China Sea, as well as similar tensions in the South China Sea.
On Friday, the overseas edition of the People's Daily carried a front-page commentary saying the best way to ensure peace was to be ready to win a war, so other countries would know that they would not gain anything by waging a war against China.
Veteran PLA observer Antony Wong Dong said that the army's recent tone in preparing for a war had hit its highest point since the end of the Taiwan Strait crisis in the late 1990s.
"It is not bad, though it is rare, to highlight concrete bad habits as examples within the army … in addition to putting pressure on the rank and file to prepare for the dangers of war at any time," Wong said, adding that the country had been used to a relatively peaceful environment since the end of the Vietnam war.
In a separate report yesterday, the PLA Daily also said the army was planning on changing the training strategy of its army aviation unit from logistics missions to combat ones.