A lack of recent experience in combat is often characterized as a major liability and potential disadvantage for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in any future conflict scenario.  Despite notable advances in its capabilities in recent years, apparent shortcomings remain in the “software” of the PLA’s training and readiness, and perhaps even its will to fight and courage (China Brief, December 1, 2016). The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has not been at war since its 1979 conflict with Vietnam—of which several current military leaders, including members of the Central Military Commission, are veterans—and there are intense concerns today about the perils of “peace disease.” Today, the PLA’s contemporary experiences in military operations other than war (MOOTW), including counter-piracy and peacekeeping operations, offer only limited experience of direct relevance to potential high-end conflict scenarios. In future fights, the PLA could confront a range of difficulties that could include the apparent rigidity of its command structure, and the relative inexperience of its officers and enlisted personnel. Despite major reforms, the PLA could continue to struggle with joint operations, even as it seeks to leverage a new doctrinal approach that is still being formulated (Diplomat, June 6, 2017). At the same time, the PLA is redoubling its efforts in military innovation, rapidly developing and looking to operationalize emerging technologies—particularly artificial intelligence (AI)—that may require major adaptations in concepts, structures, and training.
Read the full article in The Jamestown Foundation's China Brief.
More from CNAS
ReportsThe American AI Century: A Blueprint for Action
This is a preview of the forthcoming report American AI Century. The full study, which contains in-depth analysis of the issues and details of the corresponding policy recomme...
By Martijn Rasser, Megan Lamberth, Ainikki Riikonen, Chelsea Guo, Michael Horowitz & Paul Scharre
PodcastUS-China: Hong Kong and Uighurs
Daniel Kliman and Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, talk with host Carol Castiel about Beijing’s reaction to the “The ...
By Daniel Kliman
VideoImplementing AI ethics standards at the DoD
Robert Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, discusses the need for ethical AI standards in government, and why it’s important that AI usage reflects our values.Watch the ...
By Robert O. Work
CommentaryPreparing the Military for a Role on an Artificial Intelligence Battlefield
The Defense Innovation Board—an advisory committee of tech executives, scholars, and technologists—has unveiled its list of ethical principles for artificial intelligence (AI)...
By Megan Lamberth