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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Analyzing Article: The Electromagnetic predicament of PLA

Key points: "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is different with "Electronic Warfare"
PLA admitted its great weakness in electronic warfare
"Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" has become the central context of PLA new training doctrine.
"Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is not featured by the "asymmetrical" .


In the beginning of year 2007, PLA made a new military term "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" as the center subject in the training and drills. Almost in all internal exercises in PLA, "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is always mentioned as the key word.

What is the meaning of so-called "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum"? Theoretically speaking, "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is very close to the "Electronic Warfare" in western military methods, but differences still exist.

Chinese military experts believes that the "Electromagnetic Spectrum" in modern battlefield covers the types of crowd Electromagnetic signal, from military system, civil system to natural background. Especially, the large scale using of electronic devices and system will bring serious disturbance in electromagnetic spectrum to severely depress the system performance, commanding control and combat maneuver.

PLA of course admitted that "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" includes the fighting to deny the use of electromagnetic medium by an adversary from all available methods in electronic support, attacks and protection throughout land, marine, air and space battlefields.

But the military academies in PLA are totally different with western countries. Since the year of 1927, PLA’s military theories have been controlled by political reasons. Chairman Mao Zedong’s "People’s War" is a typical sample. It has made a sad truth that professional officers had to dispute how to fight under the theories of "People’s War" when in 1991 U.S. forces were playing Air-ground Joint Operation in Gulf War. Even in Iraq War, some PLA analyzers from "National Defense University" still believed that Iraq can defend U.S. for a while by so-called "People’s War".

Similarly, in early 1990s, building aircraft carrier also once made great disputation in PLA because carrier is usually considered as an "aggressive" weapon system by some CPC and PLA heads and can not be held by PLA, which was defined as a defensive force by CPC’s grand old leaders

So the "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is actually an instructional signal from CPC central military committee, the highest commanding organization of PLA, to emphasize the extreme importance of electronic warfare, which is the life-and-death counter action in the "Military Operation against Taiwan Independence" urged by President Hu Jintao.
But the first job of "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is to focus on how to support and protect PLA’s battlefield C4ISR network from the oppression stronger enemy. The main reason is, it is too early to talk about the electronic operational ability in PLA, which is just making its first step in electronic warfare.

Unlike western "Electronic Warfare", the "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" from PLA firstly urges an electromagnetic compatibility management. PLA thinks that a scientific and strict management of electromagnetic compatibility is the first step before the "real Battle" in electromagnetic spectrum. On the contrary, the side without better electromagnetic compatibility will face its biggest enemy, not the hostile jamming but friendly wild signal flood. It means that PLA will probably automatically collapse into chaos by booming electronic devices before war breaking

Xue Aiguo, the chief staff of PLA Army 38th Group Heavy Mechanized Army, also once expressed in 2007 that how to battle in Electromagnetic spectrum is the biggest obstacle for a further uprising of PLA operational capacity.

Although PLA is studying how to fight under Electromagnetic environment, the battle in unseen Spectrum is still the greatest challenge for PLA.

In 2007, "Iron Fist-2007" was initiated in early year as the testing drill for evaluating the training under battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum. And the main role, well-known 54 Group Army 127th Mechanical Infantry Division, is the experimental unit to explore the new equipments joint training under complicated Electromagnetic environment.

In the news stories and photos about this drill, PLA still exposed some terrible weaknesses. Under the adversary electronic jamming, the commanding signal network was collapsed and many combatant units are out of control. The chief officers have to use civil cellular phones to call their supreme officers. The frequency-hopping radios have been delivered to levels of units years before but most of them are used more than one year and can not be operated correctly to defend the adversary jamming.

The shock of "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" finally will bring revolution to the old training system of PLA armed forces.

Zhang Shude, a professor from PLA air-defense troop commanding college, pointed that the original training and support doctrine can not be used further for "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum". The distinguished disadvantages are described as "no electronic warfare system" "unreal Electromagnetic condition emulation" and "inadequate antagonism". More and more senior officers in PLA has waken up that PLA's training system is the first one required to be improved for adoption in electromagnetic context.

Being evaluated in PLA, the new generation training doctrine upgrade and is added much more content about "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum". In Army, Battlefield EM situation image determination and Trunking Communication Network construction are added for technological sergeants and officers. In Navy, surface and underwater main warships will carry the training of "first fire" and long-range anti-ship missile attacking under electronic counter measuring conditions. In Air Force, the aviation wings (divisions) drills the anti-radiation operations and air EM jamming programs. PLA's JH-7/A attacker squadrons have equipped electronic warfare pods. For the deterrence to enemy air assaulting, PLA Air Force wings have begun the training with land-bases radars. In Secondary Artillery, the missile launching brigades are learning to launch tactic or strategic ballistic missiles in the condition of commanding & communication signal under strong EM jamming.

Systematically, PLA new training doctrine for "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" has three related parts. First one is theoretical knowledge education. PLA has understood that its conscripted soldiers in frontline are usually interior in education background, comparing with U.S. or other western recruited people. So PLA eyes the necessary electronic knowledge education as the precondition for relevant training.

Second one is the differentiated specialty training. It usually referred as the one electromagnetic support, attack or protection capacity, such as battlefield communication network construction, jamming, countermeasure, by tactical manipulating training with the related systems, for instance frequency-hopping radio, fire control radar, sonar, jamming pod and other electronic counter measuring systems.

The last one part is the integration or joint training. PLA think that future war or conflict is a systematical contends between integrated and joint military capacity. So the main task of this stage training is to seamlessly integrate all combat units and different combat forces to exert multipliable operational capacity in electromagnetic Spectrum.

As a result, PLA has noticed that to build an effective Electromagnetic Spectrum management has been the top task for peaceful time training and real wars. There are no informations about whether PLA has established its spectrum management organizations or process system. But in lots of background news stories, PLA senior officers and staffs are urged to learn identify the spectrum situation like map-reading, and to allocate frequencies as operation commanding. In fact, the spectrum management must depend on tools or software to assisting spectrum managers. PLA may have developed some kind of spectrum monitoring & interference analysis software or equipment for commanders' spectrum planning, coordination and control.

Although PLA is hastily building support network and crazily learning for electronic warfare, PLA's operational ability in Electromagnetic environment is very thoughtful to be evaluated. Obviously China has gap with U.S. in electronic industry and PLA is inexperienced in electronic warfare. Logically in wartime, the inferior side usually rather to be the anticipator, which to initiate the first strike. So some opinions are raised to extrude that PLA’s "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" is "aggressive" and "asymmetrical" to bring Electromagnetic "Pearl Harbor" in future. But is it real?

Unlike some hard-kill "Sha Shoujian" (Killing Mace) weapon systems, such as new DF-41 ICBM and cruise missiles, the electronic warfare systems and their effect have just been acceptable and acknowledged in PLA. It can not be imagined that PLA presently has ability to organize a complicated Electromagnetic attack. Surely PLA has power to bring conventional blitzkrieg to destroy some key nodes of adversary electronic warfare network, but the recovery will certainly be speedy and counteract the attacking. Another option is the devastating electronic pulse weapon, which however is too far to be used in conventional war, unless PLA wants a nuclear disaster.

So the rising of "Battle in Electromagnetic Spectrum" someway shows the disenchantment in PLA system, from top to bottom. The electronic warfare is inevitable in PLA’s developing road when China is become more and more impatient on Taiwan Issue. It seems that PLA is so late to involve in this game, but PLA has been aware of it. When in Korea War, PLA brave soldiers whistled to organize attack under U.S.’s indiscriminate bombing. Now PLA did not want to be anther copy of Iraq army, it still needs steady troops and reliable commanding network when being under Americans’ electronic attack.

1 comment:

Li said...

Nice blog youve got here...just had a quick look through, keep up the good work.