Forces: China Gets Smaller and Stronger


January 13, 2006: Over the last two years, China has reduced it's military manpower by eight percent, and reorganized the force in the process. Most of the personnel cuts have come at the expense of the ground forces. Actually, the army has lost more than 200,000 men, while the air force, navy and missile forces have been expanded. The officers corps also took a major hit, losing 170,000, predominantly more senior, officers. This produced a better ratio of troops to officers, and gave junior officers better prospects of getting promoted. For decades, officers resisted demotion, and the government allowed many more colonels and generals to be created, and stay in service, than were needed. This was seen as necessary to maintain the loyalty of the armed forces. But with so many underemployed officers on their hands, morale and efficiency became a larger problem.

China is building a smaller, more modern and better trained, force within each of its services. That means there are certain army units that are much more effective than others. Same for the air force (which is getting a small number of modern warplanes) and the navy. The missile forces are growing because more ballistic missiles are entering service.




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