Research Report


Andrew Scobell
David Lai
Roy Kamphausen
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Pages: 338
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. v-vi)

    I am delighted to introduce this 2011 publication by the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), and the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), which focuses on the lessons learned by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from the experiences of non-Chinese armed forces during the previous 30 years. The papers contained in this volume could not be more timely or valuable to policymakers and scholars alike.

    Throughout my career, and currently as the USPA­COM Commander, I have consistently sought a solid and relevant understanding of China, and the PLA in particular. The importance of China stems...

  2. (pp. 1-32)
    Andrew Scobell, David Lai and Roy Kamphausen

    The annual Conference on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took place at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC), in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on October 22-24, 2010.¹ The topic for this year’s conference was the “PLA’s lessons from Other People’s Wars.” Participants at the conference sought to discern what lessons the PLA has been learning from the strategic and operational experiences of the armed forces of other countries during the past 3 decades.

    Why did observers of the PLA want to study what Chinese military analysts might learned about non-Chinese wars? The answer is twofold. First, the PLA has not fought...

  3. (pp. 33-74)
    June Teufel Dreyer

    Different groups within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) learned different lessons from their analyses of the Kosovo conflict; a decade after the confrontation, the three distinct voices that emerged at the time continue to be heard in only slightly modified form. Advocates of the first school, that the PLA must match the United States weapon for weapon, have seen large increases in the defense budget each year. Judging from multiple foreign analyses, these have enabled the PLA to reach a level that would make a regional conflict between U.S. and Chinese forces a more even contest than it would have...

  4. (pp. 75-114)
    Christopher D. Yung

    This chapter examines the lessons the Chinese military has drawn from the Falklands/Malvinas conflict of 1982 and applied (doctrinally, operationally, and in terms of procurement) to the expected contingencies of Taiwan and an “Out of Area” maritime campaign.

    Chinese analysts highlight the following conclusions, which serve as guidance for the operations practiced and executed, doctrine being developed, and weapon systems and platforms procured. These conclusions are: “Know your enemy, know yourself”; the importance of tactical estimates and correct de­ployment/employment of forces; the importance of tactical and war-fighting guidelines (doctrine); the importance of effective systems of command and control; the importance...

  5. (pp. 115-152)
    Christopher Twomey

    The author wishes to thank Eric Heginbotham, David Shlapak, Thomas Christensen, David Lai, Roy Kamphausen, Travis Tanner, and Michael Glosny who provided invaluable guidance on both conceptual and empirical points. The author also gratefully acknowledges the research support of Daniel Alderman, Ginger Blanken, Eben Lindsey, Lyle Morris, and Chris Siegel.

    This chapter finds that China has “learned” few lessons from ballistic missile usage per se in other historic cases. Instead, it has engaged in a degree of doctrinal innovation that moves well beyond the traditional “terror” attack usages of ballistic missiles.

    China has not imported lessons directly from Iranian and...

  6. (pp. 153-200)
    Dean Cheng

    This chapter analyzes Chinese military writings about U.S. wars with Iraq to determine what possible lessons the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may have learned from them.

    PLA writings suggest that these two wars have been very influential, affecting Chinese tactical, operational, and strategic thinking. Not only have these wars affected Chinese military doctrine, promoting greater jointness, but they have also underscored the impact of information technology. This is reflected not only in an emphasis on increasing access to informa­tion within all aspects of Chinese military operations (the “informationalization” of the PLA), but also has led to renewed emphasis on...

  7. (pp. 201-236)
    Frank Miller

    This chapter highlights lessons learned by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from its studies of and interactions with the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), including their evolving motivations and areas of interests.

    China’s main purpose for interacting with the U.S. military was to assist in the modernization of the PLA. As the combatant command responsible for the Asia-Pacific Region, PACOM is the face of the U.S. Military to the PLA. The PLA readily engaged with PACOM when its interests could be met, or when PACOM offered entrée to more strategic, national-level lessons resident elsewhere in the United States. As the PLA’s...

  8. (pp. 237-276)
    Martin Andrew

    This chapter looks at the influence of U.S. counter-insurgency (COIN) operations in Afghanistan on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

    The PLA has learned many lessons from U.S. COIN operations in Afghanistan, but the primary areas involve battlefield fire support, interdiction, the importance of low collateral damage, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), and fixed-wing close air support in the conduct of conventional operations. These lessons have been applied to the overall development and modernization programs of the PLA, and not exclusively to the development of a Chinese-style COIN capability and doctrine.

    China has transferred the COIN mission from the PLA to...

  9. (pp. 277-320)
    Yu Bin

    This chapter examines the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) assessment of the Russian counterinsurgency (COIN) operations from the 1990s and beyond.

    In the absence of large-scale insurgencies in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) over the past 40 years, and the distant experience of China’s own COIN operations in the 1950s-60s, the PLA pays close attention to the COIN operations of the Russian military, particularly the two Chechen wars (1994-96 and 1999-2009). The PLA analysts seem to have reached a consensus regarding the socio-politico-economic origins of the post-Soviet insurgency and terror issues in Russia. That is, terrorism and insurgencies are forms...