May 19, 2019

Great Power Rivalry Is Also a War For Talent

By Elsa B. Kania and Emma Moore

China’s technological prowess suggests that United States cannot indefinitely assume a military advantage based on weapons and equipment. Yet Pentagon leaders tempted to find comfort in the superiority of the American servicemember — “people are our greatest asset,” as they are wont to say — should note that the People’s Liberation Army is prioritizing efforts to catch up in its ability to find, attract, and retain talented people. If the U.S. military is to keep this edge, it needs to improve its own efforts, and quickly.

Traditionally, human capital has been a relative weakness for the PLA, which has been more generally known for its quantity, not the quality, of its personnel. However, ongoing reforms have shrunk and reshaped that a force that once relied heavily on conscription, including the demobilization of several hundred thousand personnel. Increasingly, the PLA is trying to recruit more educated and “high-quality” officers and enlisted personnel. In the process, the Chinese military has also changed its system for recruiting civilian personnel, including to concentrate on those with technical proficiency. China is also exploring new options to apply a national strategy of military-civil fusion to talent development.

Read the full article in Defense One.