Taking the Fight to the Enemy: Chinese Thinking about Long-Distance and Expeditionary Operations
According to many analysts of China’s military, when an officer of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) suggests new forms of operations, expanded domains of warfare, or new weapons systems, American security planners can dismiss these projections as merely “aspirational” thinking. This assessment of the PLA Academy of Military Science publication Long Distance Operations and other military publications of this genre propose that suggestions for forms of future warfare capture currents of thinking among mid-grade officers and also reflect how the senior political and military leaders in China want the PLA to evolve. Among the trends identified in this Letort Paper is the requirement for a capacity to more effectively attack a distant adversary, such as the United States, and to hold that adversary’s population at risk. This analysis also shows that a number of military analysts in China perceive that the populace is at risk from attacks by stronger, distant states. In the past 5 years, the PLA has exercised to develop force projection and expeditionary capabilities. As described in brief in this analysis, in the past 6 months, the PLA has changed its own force structure and posture in ways that will facilitate expeditionary operations.