People's Liberation Army Special Operations Forces

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People's Liberation Army
special operations forces
Pla ensign sof.jpg
An example of PLA Special Operations Forces insignia
Active1988 – Present
Country People's Republic of China
AllegianceFlag of the Chinese Communist Party.svg Communist Party of China
Branch People's Liberation Army Ground Force
People's Liberation Army Navy
People's Liberation Army Air Force
People's Liberation Army Rocket Force
TypeSpecial forces
RoleCounter-terrorism
Military intelligence
Special operations
(Deployable from land, air and sea)
SizeAnalysts believe current size is between 7,000 and 14,000 troops.[citation needed]
EngagementsCounter-piracy operations

The People's Liberation Army special operations forces (simplified Chinese: 中国人民解放军特种部队; traditional Chinese: 中國人民解放軍特種部隊; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn tèzhǒng bùduì) are the special forces of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). The size of the Special Operations Forces is estimated to be between 7,000 and 14,000 troops. The forces intended combat role is as rapid-response units in the event of a limited regional war under high-tech conditions. They also carry out commando, counter-terrorism, and intelligence gathering operations.

The building up of China's special forces represents a shift in the country's operational thinking, from an army-dominated force structure to emphasizing integrated joint operations, with a flexible elite force.

History[edit]

The PLA's interest in modern special warfare was first noted in the mid-1980s when it was shifting its military stance from a "people's war" to "fighting a local war under hi-tech conditions." The PLA planners believed that the next war would be a short, fast-paced conflict on the periphery rather than a total war on Chinese territory, and that conventional infantry-orientated ground forces would no longer meet their requirements. Additionally, the PLA's combat experience from the 1979 and 1980s border conflicts with Vietnam, where Vietnamese special forces caused substantial trouble to the Chinese forces, demonstrated the value of special units.

On 23 December 2008, their first publicly known mission was to accompany three Chinese warships in protecting and escorting commercial ships against Somali pirates, in cooperation with other nations as part of a UN mandate.[1]

Special Operations Forces Units[edit]

People's Liberation Army Navy Special Forces
  • Beijing Military Region – "Oriental Sword". All 3,000 soldiers in this unit complete all types of operations and are regarded as the elitearm of the country.[2]
  • Beijing Military Region Special Forces Unit – "Arrow". Established in the early 1990s, this unit is equipped with high-tech equipment including unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles (UARVs), individual blast devices and handheld laser dazzling weapons. Every soldier from this unit must be able to run five kilometers bearing heavy equipment in under 25 minutes, complete a 400-meter obstacle course in under one minute and 45 seconds, perform 100 push-ups in a minute, and repeatedly throw grenades more than 50 metres (160 ft).[3]
  • Guangzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit – "South Blade" or "South China Sword". This unit was established in 1988 as the PLA's first special reconnaissance group. It was expanded in 2000 to become the first PLA special operations unit to be capable of air-, sea-, and land-operations, similar to U.S. Navy SEALs. Basic training for this unit includes cross-country running, climbing, swimming and shooting. The soldiers must also be familiar with operating 15 advanced technologies including GPS navigation, night vision, and photo reconnaissance.[3]
  • Chengdu Military Region Special Forces Unit – Falcon. Established in 1992, this unit is specialized in target locating and indicating, airborne insertion, sabotage and offensive strikes, and emergency evacuation. The unit was also used by Chengdu Military Region to experiment with new advanced concept equipment and tactics, including the digitized army soldier system and high-mobility land weapon platforms.
  • Shenyang Military Region Special Forces Unit – Siberian Tiger" This unit is trained to complete missions on the ground and in the air and water, as well as surviving in the wilderness alone or in small groups. The unit is said to place special focus on survival skills; it often breaks protocol by increasing this training by an two-thirds, forcing soldiers to spend three to four months in difficult environments such as forests, mountains, deserts and grasslands with no man-made shelter or food. Soldiers in the squad are trained on multiple transport vehicles for roads, railroads, waterways, and in the air. Individual members of the unit have reportedly completed parachute landings more than 5,000 times and logged scuba diving training of more than 1,000 hours.[3]
  • Nanjing Military Region Special Forces Unit – Flying Dragon. This is the special land force of east China's Nanjing Military Region.
  • Nanjing Military Region Special Forces Unit – Oscar.
  • Lanzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit – Night Tiger. This unit has a long history, with its origins dating back to World War II. It is home of China's first counter-terrorism unit, established in 2000.[3]
  • Jinan Military Region Special Forces Unit – Eagle. Soldiers from this unit are said to focus on training to enhance cardiovascular endurance, including being able to run at least 3,300 meters in under 12 minutes. They also reportedly engage in hand-to-hand combat training and the traditional Chinese health and martial arts practice of Qigong.[3] Soldiers of the Eagle special force can complete sea-air-land operations,[2] in a similar way to the U.S. Navy SEALs.
  • Leishen (Thundergod) Commando Airborne Force is trained for reconnaissance operations for the PLA's airborne units. It is capable of performing strategic deterrence, combat assault, and task operations under IT-based conditions. Members of this unit recently attended the Golden Owl-2015 International Competition of Special Forces held in Kazakhstan, and won first place.[4][5] Representatives also attended the Russia International Army Games in 2015 where they took first place in the Airborne Platoon competition. Ten teams, from Kazakhstan, Belarus, China, Russia, Indonesia and Singapore, attended the competition.[6]
  • Sea Dragon is the People's Liberation Army Navy commando force. Members of this force are equipped with black uniforms. Its first publicly known mission was to accompany three Chinese warships in protecting and escorting commercial ships against Somali pirates in December 2008, in cooperation with other nations as part of a UN mandate. Since then, the unit has participated in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden for over 300 days.[3] Sea Dragon's Jiaolong Assault Team helped evacuate 225 foreign nationals and almost 600 Chinese citizens from Yemen's southern port of Aden during late March 2015, during the Yemeni Civil War.[7]
  • The Southwest China Falcon special force is known as Leopard.[2]

Awards[edit]

  • 2009 international military competitions in Slovakia – 8-first places, 6-second places in 13 individual competition events.[8]
  • Third place in the 2010 Sniper World Cup and first place in the 2011 Sniper World Cup.[9]
  • Best overall performance at the fifth and sixth Warrior Competition, organized by the Jordan Armed Forces at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre.[10][11]
  • Chinese Special Forces took first place at the 2013 fifth International Warrior Competition, organized by the Jordan Armed Forces at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre.[10]
  • Chinese Special Forces took first, second, and fourth place at 2014 Olympics for Elite Warriors.[12]
  • Chinese Thor (Leishen) Commando Airborne troops participated in the Golden Owl-2015 International Competition of Special Forces held in Kazakhstan, taking first place.[4][5] They also attended the Russia International Army Games in 2015 where they took first place in the "Airborne Platoon" competition.[6]
  • China's Sky Sword Unit placed first in the ninth edition of the 2017 Annual Warrior Competition in Amman, Jordon.[13] China's Falcon Commando Unit placed third overall in the competition.[13] Thirty-one teams from seventeen nations participated in the competition.
  • China' Snow Leopards team placed second in the tenth edition of the 2018 Annual Warrior Competition in Amman, Jordon.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Sea Dragon's elite Jiaolong Assault Team is featured in the 2018 cinematic release Operation Red Sea.[15] The film is loosely based on the evacuation of the 225 foreign nationals and almost 600 Chinese citizens from Yemen's southern port of Aden during late March in 2015 during the Yemeni Civil War.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Archived December 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c "{title}". Archived from the original on 2018-08-09. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-10-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b "H OME-CCTVPLUS". 220.181.168.86. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  5. ^ a b Jianing, Yao. "Chinese airborne troops win glory in int'l special forces competition". english.chinamil.com.cn. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  6. ^ a b Jianing, Yao. "Chinese team ranks first in first stage of Airborne Platoon competition". english.chinamil.com.cn. Archived from the original on 2017-01-11. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  7. ^ "Feature: Chinese naval vessels evacuate hundreds from war-torn Yemen -- China Development Gateway -- Sharing Information, Knowledge and Tools".
  8. ^ "Chinese NCO flaunts might in international military competition". Eng.chinamil.com.cn. 2010-02-23. Archived from the original on 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  9. ^ "China dominates Military and Police Sniper World Cup". Chinadaily.com.cn. 2011-05-31. Archived from the original on 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
  10. ^ a b Qamar, M. J. "Chinese Special Operation Team Wins First Position At International Special Forces Contest". Archived from the original on 2017-08-07. Retrieved 2015-05-12.
  11. ^ KASOTC, all4shooters.com / Photos:. "Snow Leopard Unit wins 6th Annual Warrior Competition - Pro-zone - Pro-zone - News - all4shooters.com". all4shooters.com. Archived from the original on 2015-04-23. Retrieved 2015-05-03.
  12. ^ Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer,Popular Science,Eastern Arsenal
  13. ^ a b "Event - Annual Warrior Competition". Archived from the original on 2018-01-30. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  14. ^ "10th Annual Warrior Competition ~ Results". 2018-05-07. Archived from the original on 2018-08-07. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  15. ^ "'Operation Red Sea' Soundtrack Details | Film Music Reporter". Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-09-02.

External links[edit]