Chinese President Xi Jingping announced a restructure of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Wednesday. According to Chinese state media outlets, the shift is intended to transform the PLA into a leaner fighting force and improve its joint operations capabilities.
The new structure will condense China’s military into 84 units and place more emphasis on establishing new military capabilities, including branching further into cyberspace, electronic, and information warfare.
“This has profound and significant meaning in building a world-class military,” Xi told commanders of the new units at the PLA headquarters in Beijing.
This shift in structure for China’s military will consolidate command under officials holding major-general or rear-admiral titles and the personnel in the 84 units will likely be restructured from those who remain after China completes its planned reduction of forces as laid out by President Xi in 2015.
It also calls for the establishment of a joint operations command by 2020 and for streamlining troop numbers in military occupations that don’t involve direct combat operations.
This dramatic shift isn’t the beginning of China’s military restructuring, but rather the next step in a process that began last year with seven military commands being consolidated to five and with the four military departments (staff, politics, logistics and armaments) completely reorganized into 15 state agencies. The 84 units this next step produces will then fall under those 15 agencies once established.