To implement the strategic arrangement and decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and President Xi Jinping, and to steadily advance the defense and military reforms, the Central Military Commission (CMC) issued the following guideline.
Part I: Significance, guiding ideology and basic principles of the reforms.
1. Significance. Deepening reform of national defense and armed forces is a requirement of the times to achieve the China Dream and the dream of having a stronger People’s Liberation Army (PLA), to achieve the imperative of strengthening the PLA and is a key move deciding the future of China’s armed forces. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the CPC Central Committee, CMC and President Xi Jinping have mapped out military strategies and guidelines under new situations, proposed a series of significant principles and made a range of crucial decisions around the goal of having a stronger PLA. The process included coordinating the revolutionary aspects, modernization and standardization of the armed forces, while integrating economic and defense development. To implement the significant strategic planning and design of the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and President Xi, China must deepen reform of national defense and the armed forces, fully implement the strategy of empowering the PLA through reform and firmly stick to the path of Chinese characteristics to make the army stronger. It is the only course to cope with the unprecedented changes facing the world and ensure national security, and an inevitable requirement to stick to and advance socialism with Chinese characteristics and achieve the “Four Comprehensives” strategic layout in a coordinated manner. It is also essential for the PLA to implement military goals and strategies and fulfill its tasks. All members of the PLA must recognize the significance, imperativeness and urgency to deepen this reform and act with a high historical consciousness and a strong sense of responsibility, and strive to fulfill the tasks to the satisfaction of the Party and the people.
2. Guiding ideology. We must seriously implement the decisions of the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the third, fourth and fifth plenary sessions, stick to Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of the “Three Represents” and the Scientific Outlook on Development as the guidelines, thoroughly carry out the remarks of President Xi Jinping, especially those on the significance of defense and military building, and comprehensively advance the strategy of strengthening the military through reform in line with the requirements of the “Four Comprehensives,” aiming to have stronger armed forces and to implement the strategic layout under new situations. Emphasis should be laid on the removal of institutional obstacles, as well as structural and policy problems, to facilitate the modernization of military organization, further unleash combat effectiveness, develop the PLA into a force consistent with China’s international status to better safeguard the country’s interests in security and development so that the troops can provide solid support for the Chinese to stride toward the two centenary goals and realize the grand dream of rejuvenating the Chinese nation.
3. Basic Principles.
—— Stick to the correct political direction. The fundamental principle and system of having the Party possess absolute leadership over the army must be consolidated and improved while the PLA’s nature as a troop of the people must be maintained. The glorious tradition and excellent work style of the PLA shall be upheld while the CMC chairman is responsible for leading all armed forces. Ultimate leadership of the PLA belongs to the CPC Central Committee and the CMC.
—— Focus on combat effectiveness. In line with changing forms of warfare and the trend of world military affairs, we must firmly stick to the fundamental standard of establishing combat effectiveness, seriously resolve the focal and difficult problems in war preparations and strengthen weak links in fighting capacity development, constitute an integrated combat system and improve the PLA’s capability to win in battle.
—— Stay innovative. We must implement the strategy of strengthening the PLA through science and technology, fully exploit the role of theoretical, technical, organizational and managerial innovation, and strive to pursue a leap forward in military modernization and advantages in military competition.
—— Focus on institutional layout. We must well coordinate different reforms to make transitional arrangements in line with the long-term design, supplement institutional reforms with supporting policies and bring out optimal results by pressing ahead with different reforms simultaneously.
—— Stick to the rule of law. We must fully exploit the rule of law in pushing ahead reforms, consolidate the achievements of reform through laws and regulations and ensure all work is done within the framework of laws.
—— Advance the reforms actively and steadily. We must emancipate our minds, press ahead with the times, strive to make breakthroughs in reform, steadily advance reforms based on realities in a gradual and open manner, curb the risks of reforms and ensure the stability and unity of the armed forces.
Part II. Overall objectives and main tasks of the reforms
1. Overall objectives. We must firmly stick to the principle of the Central Military Commission in overall command, military districts focusing on combat, and different services responsible for military construction, put the emphasis of reform on leadership mechanisms and joint operation command systems, optimize the scale and structure of the PLA, make institutional and policy improvements and facilitate civil-military integration. Breakthroughs shall be made in the reform of leadership mechanisms and joint combat command systems by 2020, while significant progress shall be achieved in optimizing military structure and size, and improving policy and institutions as well as civil-military integration. We must strive to build a military power with Chinese characteristics that can win in digitalized warfare and effectively fulfill its duty, and further optimize the socialist military system with Chinese characteristics.
According to the overall goals and objectives, priority was set on the reform of leadership mechanisms and joint combat command systems in 2015. In 2016, reform will focus on the optimization of military scale and structure and the streamlining of combat forces, military academies and the armed police force. From 2017 to 2020, further adjustment, optimization and improvement must be made in reform in all areas. When the time is right, reform of policy and systems and the in-depth development of civil-military integration shall be advanced.
2. Leadership mechanism. Emphasis shall be placed on the central leadership of the Central Military Commission, strengthening and improving strategic planning, command and management of CMC departments, optimizing management of different services and new types of combat power, and establishing a mechanism that ensures mutual checks and close coordination in decision-making, execution and supervision.
Role positioning is the starting point of the leadership mechanism reform. Each department shall have its core functions, and similar functions shall be integrated. Throughout the process, supervision and coordination must be emphasized to turn the former four headquarters into different departments. Military construction tasks shall be decentralized, while specific management roles shall be stripped out to reduce the management hierarchy and staff so as to clarify the functions of command, construction, management and supervision, and better allocate powers of decision-making, planning, execution and evaluation.
Optimization of the management system of different services shall better allocate the authority of different organs and institutions so as to fully exploit the significant role of the management system in military construction. After the reform, logistics management will be based on the existing joint services system and more in line with the requirements of the joint combat command mechanism that can provide more efficient and better support for common and special purposes. Military equipment must be managed and maintained by different services under the unified supervision of the CMC’s equipment department for the joint application of all military districts. National defense mobilization must be under unified command.
3. Joint combat command mechanism. To meet new requirements of integrated joint combat, a two-echelon command mechanism at the CMC and district levels respectively, must be established to better serve the country in peacetime and war, to improve the efficiency in daily operations and facilitate the specialization of military command. Military districts shall be readjusted.
The combat command roles of all relevant parties will be adjusted to meet the requirements of joint combat and joint command. In line with the joint command system, joint training must also be improved.
4. Military scale and structure. China will press ahead on the path of its own characteristics to reduce the size and improve the combat capability of its forces. Some 300,000 active personnel posts, mostly in non-combat institutions, will be cut to reduce troop numbers from 2.3 million to 2 million. Officers will face cutbacks, outdated armaments will be phased out and new weapons systems developed.
5. Organizational structure. The troops will be restructured and strengthened to meet different security and operational requirements and become stronger, more integrated, multifunctional and more flexible. The structure of reserve forces will also be improved and the size of the militia reduced.
6. Personnel training. The new personnel training system shall consist of academic education, unit training and professional military education. Military academies will be restructured and under two-level management by the CMC and services, while training will involve the junior, intermediate and senior levels. Professional military education will be perfected to ensure all-weather capabilities among all enlisted personnel. Academies and troops shall collaborate to cultivate military professionals innovatively.
7. Policy system. Policies concerning human resources and logistics shall be improved in line with the requirements of military development and the country’s institutional reform to better conform to the features of a professional armed service and enhance the sense of honor and pride among personnel. A hierarchy mainly based on military ranks shall be established to encourage professional officers, reform the service system and transform the systems for non-commissioned officers and non-combatant personnel. Policies and administrative departments concerning ex-servicemen will be improved. In-depth reforms will also involve funds administration, procurement, engineering projects, salaries, housing, medical care and insurance of enlisted personnel. The military is banned from providing paid external services.
8. Civil-military integration. Integration shall include all production factors, cover a broad range of sectors and seek high benefits. A smooth and efficient organizational management system shall be established with a central leadership and good coordination between the civil and military areas. Relevant policies, complete with sound and efficient incentives, shall be decided by the state, based on demand and stay market-oriented.
9. Command and structure of the armed police. Strengthening the CMC’s centralized leadership of the armed police and adjusting the command and administrative system shall optimize the armed police structure and organization.
10. The rule of law in the military. The principle of administering the PLA strictly according to law must be fully implemented to seek fundamental changes from simply relying on orders, past experience and campaign-style management to depending more on laws, regulations and institutional arrangements. Legal advisory systems, military judiciary, discipline inspection and supervision systems, auditing systems and military law expert management mechanisms shall be optimized to enhance the legalization of national defense and army building.
Part III: Organizational leadership of the reforms
Defense and military reform is a massive and revolutionary move that will bring deep-seated changes in personnel interests and have unprecedented repercussions. Therefore it must be pushed ahead under the unified leadership of the Central Committee of the CPC, the CMC and President Xi Jinping. The essence of the CMC work conference on reform must be seriously implemented and education should be strengthened to facilitate consensus. All relevant parties shall take their responsibility to steadily advance the reforms, stick to bottom-line thinking and curb risks over the process. Solid and firm leadership is necessary to ensure the accomplishment of the task.
1. Responsibility should be shouldered at all levels. Advancing reform is a significant political task of Party committees at various levels. They should enhance its capability and play a leading role with the main leaders being the first line of responsibility. Surveys and research must be done over the process while theoretical study must not be relaxed so as to find and resolve problems promptly. Evaluation and supervision must be strengthened while all relevant parties should pool their efforts under the guidance of the work teams of the CMC. The reform and personnel offices of the CMC should make proper institutional improvements to facilitate the reforms. The four headquarters must adjust well while advancing the reforms across the military. On their establishment, new administrative offices should quickly initiate operations to fulfill their duties. Party committees must be established in these offices to strengthen the Party’s leadership over reform. Relevant departments should properly handle remaining problems.
2. Strengthening ideological and political work. Orientation about the reform shall revolve around Chairman Xi’s remarks and be common knowledge among the troops so they seriously implement the decisions of the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and Chairman Xi. Higher-level administrative departments and senior officers should be united first to set a good example for the rank and file in being politically right, taking care of the overall interests of the army, following instructions and facilitating reforms. Ideological and political work must be carried out over the full process to help all personnel recognize the significance of reform from an overall perspective, emancipate their minds with consensus, face adjustments to their interests positively and stay actively involved. Public opinion, especially online opinion, shall be properly guided to elevate military morale and create a favorable atmosphere for reform.
3. Personnel resettlement must be properly handled. Advancing reform is a way to enhance capacity building of military officers. We must stick to the criteria of excellence, put moral character first and appoint people on merit and capability. A competent cadre must firmly implement the goal of a stronger PLA, actively support and be devoted to reform. Elite cadres must be retained during the restructuring of management staff while practical difficulties facing relocated cadres must be properly resolved. All cadres must take reform as an arena to display their expertise, exercise themselves in reform and strive to be down-to-earth reformists. Senior cadres, the treasure of the Party and the troops, must be well catered for.
4. Careful organization of handover work. The handover of personnel, materials and funds should be well managed during the transition so that no individuals, assets or work are unaccounted for. Land for military purposes, and barracks in use and under construction should be properly managed. Expenditure and material reserves should be checked and verified, and supplies must be ensured during the transition. Accurate armaments inventories must be handed over properly and all relevant regulations must be seriously implemented.
5. Seriously implementing all discipline rules. The more critical the reform, the more significant discipline and rules become. We must tightly implement rules concerning politics, organization, personnel, finance, general public and security discipline. Political discipline and rules must be tightly observed and liberalism of any form, politically, organizationally or in action, opposed. Organizational and personnel discipline must not be breached. Civil-military contradictions and problems left over by history must be properly handled. Discipline inspection, perambulatory and auditing departments must tighten their supervision and strictly punish all infringements.
6. Strengthening combat readiness training. This includes close monitoring of developments concerning national security and social stability during reform, establishing and improving emergency response plans, seriously implementing regulations and rules on combat readiness, ensuring national security at various levels and responding rapidly and efficiently when necessary. It also involves making thorough plans for annual military training programs, strengthening army management, holding departments and individuals accountable, timely exposure and resolution of problems, preventing significant accidents and issues and ensuring the security, stability，centralization and unification of the forces.
Build a logistics support mechanism in line with joint battle command
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