China: September 10, 2004


Below the media radar, China's armed forces are undergoing some fundamental transformations. Decades of bad habits are being cleared away. Units are being reorganized on a more practical basis. For example, over the decades, senior generals in different parts of the country had allowed their combat units to drift into many different special types of organization. There were also no standards for training, or not much training at all in many areas. No more. There is a program of forcing units throughout the country to undergo standard training drills, and then take a test. Units that pass are rewarded. Those that fail, get to keep training. Successful officers advance, those that fail often lose their jobs. The training is done on the cheap, as much as possible. Lots of class room stuff and field exercises that don't burn a lot of fuel and ammo. All of this is creating a much more lethal Chinese military force. But it is moving slowly, and will take up to a decade, and two or three times the current annual defense budget,  before the Chinese become a world class military power. 




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