Army History

People's Liberation Army Ground Force

The People's Liberation Army Ground Force, also known as PLAGF, is the ground-based military branch of People's Liberation Army. The regular forces of PLAGF contain 1.7 million personnel along with a reserve group of 80,000 personnel. This is the largest active ground army force in whole world and the second largest army force in terms of personnel. Furthermore, it has ten thousand battle tanks, five thousand five hundred armored personnel carriers, twenty-five thousand artillery pieces, twenty-five thousand anti-aircraft units and two thousand two hundred infantry fighting vehicles. At present, forty percent of the total ground force brigades and divisions are fully armored or mechanized to handle any potential threats. The PLAGF undergoes regular and major re-structuring and upgrades to be prepared to face future ground warfare with Special Forces, front line troops and marines. The upgrading system gives special priority to keep the PLAGF trained in modern weapon systems.

People's Liberation Army Ground Force Image People's Liberation Army has introduced wireless networks, satellite communications and digital radios for improving its battleground C4ISR capabilities. This allows the army commanders to stay in contact with the front-line units during battles. During exercises, the ground forces are always instructed to function under severe ECM or electronic countermeasures conditions.

Formations and Units

The PLAGF has eighteen Group Armies, each a regular corps sized. These Group Armies are divided among 7 military regions - Beijing, Shenyang, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Jinan, Chengdu and Guangzhou. The divisions are being cut down into brigades within these military regions.

The IIS or International Institute for Strategic Studies currently assigns the PLAGF with 9 active tank divisions containing several armored brigades. In 2000, Dennis Blasko wrote that the conventional structure of the PLA divisions contained of around 3 tuan or regiments of the main branch, all the 3 battalions and support units, an armor regiment (in infantry division) or infantry (in armored division), an anti-aircraft battalion or regiment, an artillery regiment and signals, reconnaissance, engineer, chemical defense companies or battalions and war service support units.

Typically, People's Liberation Army armored brigades have 4 tank battalions each, which contains one hundred and twenty-four main battle tanks. Every tank battalion has three tank companies (30+1 tank for each battalion commander), one mechanized infantry battalion (forty personnel carrier) one artillery battalion (eighteen self-propelled howitzers), three batteries of six guns each and one anti-aircraft battalion.

PLAGF has eight active artillery divisions having many artillery brigades. Generally, each People's Liberation Army artillery brigade has four artillery battalions with eighteen guns in three batteries and 1 self propelled anti-tank gun battalion (eighteen vehicles).

Brigades are comparatively new in the PLA. They were first introduced during the 1990s. PLA intends to increase their number and get rid of the enormous, inflexible formations of Soviet model. This new system helps in modernizing the army by allowing the formation of smaller, battalion sized cross-service arms battle units within a brigade for independent operations. This makes it possible for the PLA to handle a rapidly changing combat situation. The PLA have not been able to take the full advantage of the new formation yet. But, it is successfully integrating its force structure with the help of this new system.