Structure and Organization of the Armed Forces
The armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) are composed of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), both the active and reserve components, the Chinese People's Armed Police Force (APF) and the militia. The Central Military Commission (CMC) of the PRC directs and assumes unified command of the nation's armed forces. The Ministry of National Defense under the State Council directs and administers national defense work.
The active components of the PLA are the country's standing army, which mainly undertake the task of defensive military operations, and help to maintain social order, if necessary, in accordance with the law. Its basic organizational structures can be categorized into the general headquarters/departments, the services and arms and the military area commands.
- The general headquarters/departments. The PLA's general headquarters/departments system is composed of the General Staff Headquarters, the General Political Department, the General Logistics Department and the General Armaments Department, which are placed under the leadership of the CMC. The CMC, through these four general headquar-ters/departments, directs and commands all the military area commands and the services and arms. The routine work of the Ministry of National Defense is handled, respectively, by these four general headquarters/departments. The General Staff Headquarters is the leading organ of all military work of the nation's armed forces. It organizes and leads the military construction of the nation's armed forces, and organizes and commands their military operations. Under it there are departments in charge of operations, intelligence, training, adjutant and force structure, mobilization, etc. The General Political Department is the leading organ of all po-litical work of the nation's armed forces. It administers the armed forces' Party work, and organizes their political work. Under it there are departments in charge of Party affairs, personnel, publicity, security, etc. The General Logistics Department organizes and directs the armed forces' logistics construction and logistical support. Under it there are departments in charge of financial affairs, quartermaster, health administration, military transportation, materials and POLs, capital construction and barracks, auditing, etc. The General Armaments Department organizes and directs the weaponry and equipment construction work of the armed forces. Under it there are departments in charge of planning; armaments for Navy, military aviation and strategic equipment; Army equipment research, development and procurement; general equipment support; electronics and information infrastructure, equipment and technology cooperation, etc.
- The services and arms. The PLA is composed of three services - the Army, Navy and Air Force - and an independent arm, the Second Artillery Force. The Army has such arms as the infantry, artillery, armor, engineering, communications, anti-chemical warfare and Army aviation, as well as other specialized units. The Navy has such arms as the surface, submarine, naval aviation, coastal defense and marine corps, as well as other specialized units. The Air Force has such arms as the aviation, surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft artillery, radar, and airborne, as well as other specialized units. The Second Artillery Force is composed of the strategic missile, conventional missile, and other specialized units.
- The military area commands. The military area commands (theaters of war) of the PLA are military organizations set up according to the state's administrative divisions, geographical locations, strategic and operational orientations, and operational tasks. Under each military area command are a number of Army combined corps, units of various arms, logistical support units, and provincial or garrison commands. Their major functions include organizing and coordinating the joint operations and exercises of the ground, naval and air forces in each military area; exercising direct leadership over Party affairs, military training, administration, political work, logistical and armaments support of the Army units under its jurisdiction; and directing the militia, military service, mobilization, civil air defense and battlefield construction work in the military area. At present, the PLA has seven military area commands, namely, Shenyang, Beijing, Lanzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
The PLA has the Academy of Military Science (AMS), the National Defense University (NDU), and the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT). The AMS is the PLA's highest-level research institute and center of military science. The NDU and the NUDT are the two institutions of higher learning directly under the CMC. The former is mainly responsible for the education and training of senior commanding and staff officers and researchers, while the latter is mainly responsible for the education and training of senior scientists and engineers, and specialized commanding officers.
The PLA's reserve force is a force with its preset organizational structure, with the reserve personnel as the base and active personnel as the backbone. The reserve force, which is incorporated into the PLA's order of battle, receives military training in peacetime according to relevant regulations, and helps to maintain social order, if necessary, in accordance with the law. In wartime, it may be called into active service in pursuance of a state mobilization order.
The Chinese People's Armed Police Force undertakes the task of maintenance of security entrusted by the state. It is under the dual leadership of the State Council and the CMC, and consists of internal security forces, and gold mine, forest, water and power, and transportation security forces.
The militia is a component of the state's armed forces. The militiamen and women, under the command of military organs, perform combat readiness support and defensive operations, and help to maintain social order. The General Staff Headquarters is in charge of nationwide militia work. Each military area command is responsible for the militia work under its jurisdiction. Each provincial command exercises leadership and command over the militia in its region.