8 March 1945

8 March 1945

8 March 1945

March 1945


Eastern Front

Soviet troops capture Laubau (Silesia)

Western Front

US troops enter Bonn

Allied troops at
Xanten, 8 March 1945

British and Canadian troops enter Xanten on the Rhine


US troops land at Samboanga on Mindanao

HISTORY, March 8: U.S troops push into Cologne, Germany in 1945

Today is Thursday, March 8, the 67th day of 2018. There are 298 days left in the year.

On March 8, 1965, the United States landed its first combat troops in South Vietnam as 3,500 Marines arrived to defend the U.S. air base at Da Nang.

In 1917, Russia's "February Revolution" (referring to the Old Style calendar) began the result was the abdication of the Russian monarchy in favor of a provisional government, which was overthrown later the same year by the Bolsheviks.

In 1948, the Supreme Court, in McCollum v. Board of Education, struck down voluntary religious education classes in Champaign, Illinois, public schools, saying the program violated separation of church and state.

In 1979, technology firm Philips demonstrated a prototype compact disc player.

In 1983, in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals convention in Orlando, Florida, President Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire."

In 1999, baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio died in Hollywood, Florida, at age 84.

Birthdays: Micky Dolenz (The Monkees) is 73. Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Rice is 65. NBC News anchor Lester Holt is 59. Actor James Van Der Beek (�wson’s Creek”) is 41.

Thought for Today: "In every person, even in such as appear most reckless, there is an inherent desire to attain balance." -- Jakob Wassermann, German author (1873-1934).

World War II Today: March 8

Heavy fighting is reported at the outskirts to Viipuri, as the Red Army continues its attempt to capture the city. This prompts the Finns to seek an immediate armistice, which the Russians refuse. Therefore the Finnish delegation in Moscow is instructed to sue for peace.

The US Senate passes the ‘Lend Lease’ bill by 60 votes to 31.

Martial law is proclaimed in Holland in order to extinguish any anti-Nazi protests.

The RAF use GEE for the first time for target marking during a raid on Essen. The technique was known as ‘Shaker’ and consisted of aircraft marking the target with flares, allowing aircraft further behind to see the target more clearly. However the results of the raid were disappointing.

Rangoon falls to the Japanese as the British forces escape to the north. The 17th Indian Division was now holding the Irrawaddy area and the 1st Burma Division the upper Sittang valley. The Chinese Expeditionary Force were farther north, with the Fifth Chinese Army defending Mandalay and the 6th Chinese Army was at Toungoo and defending the Burmese province of Shan.

Japanese make unopposed landings at Lae and Salamaua on New Guinea.

The Dutch on Java surrender to Japanese.

Over 1,000 Germans wives of Jewish men deported to concentrations camps are now protesting in Berlin. To prevent this kind of protest from spreading, Joseph Goebbels orders the release of the 1,500 Jewish men.

Japanese forces attack American troops on Hill 700 in Bougainville. The battle will last five days.

The US 8th Air Force carries out a heavy attack against Berlin. The primary target is the ball bearing plant at Erkner, a suburb of Berlin enemy opposition is fierce and 37 bombers and 16 fighters are lost.

British and Canadian troops involved in Operation ‘Blockbuster’ enter Xanten on the Rhine after several days of heavy fighting further to the South U.S. troops enter Bonn.

Beginning of secret negotiations at Bern, Switzerland, between representatives of the American OSS (Allan Dulles) and the German High Command in Italy (General von Vietinghoff and SS General Wolff) for an early surrender of German forces in Italy.

The Surprising History of International Women’s Day

Controversy clouds the history of International Women’s Day. According to a common version of the holiday’s origins, it was established in 1907, to mark the 50th anniversary of a brutally repressed protest by New York City’s female garment and textile workers. But there’s a problem with that story: Neither the 1857 protest nor the 50th anniversary tribute may have actually taken place. In fact, research that emerged in the 1980s suggested that origin myth was invented in the 1950s, as part of a Cold War-era effort to separate International Women’s Day from its socialist roots.

Activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman addressing a crowd, c. 1916. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

The historian Temma Kaplan revisited the first official National Woman’s Day, held in New York City on February 28, 1909. (The organizers, members of the Socialist Party of America, wanted it to be on a Sunday so that working women could participate.) Thousands of people showed up to various events uniting the suffragist and socialist causes, whose goals had often been at odds. Labor organizer Leonora O’Reilly and others addressed the crowd at the main meeting in the Murray Hill Lyceum, at 34th Street and Third Avenue. In Brooklyn, writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman (of “The Yellow Wall-paper” fame) told the congregation of the Parkside Church: “It is true that a woman’s duty is centered in her home and motherhood…[but] home should mean the whole country, and not be confined to three or four rooms or a city or a state.”

The concept of a “woman’s day” caught on in Europe. On March 19, 1911 (the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune, a radical socialist government that briefly ruled France in 1871), the first International Woman’s Day was held, drawing more than 1 million people to rallies worldwide. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, most attempts at social reform ground to a halt, but women continued to march and demonstrate on International Woman’s Day.

International Women’s Day demonstration in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1917. (Credit: Fototeca Gilardi/Getty Images)

Most dramatically, a massive demonstration led by Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that began on February 23, 1917 (according to Russia’s Gregorian calendar it was March 8 in the West) proved to be a link in the chain of events that led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution. After the czar’s abdication, the provisional government formed until a constituent assembly could be elected became the first government of a major power to grant women the right to vote.

In recognition of its importance, Vladimir Lenin, founder of Russia’s Communist Party, declared Woman’s Day an official Soviet holiday in 1917. Communists in Spain and China later adopted the holiday as well. (Sometime after 1945, the terminology shifted, and “Woman’s Day” became “Women’s Day.”) Until the mid-1970s, International Women’s Day would be celebrated primarily in socialist countries.

In 1975, recognized as International Women’s Year, the United Nations General Assembly began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. By 2014, it was celebrated in more than 100 countries, and had been made an official holiday in more than 25. Over the years, however, many celebrations of International Women’s Day strayed far from the holiday’s political roots. In Argentina, for example, it was largely commercialized, with men buying flowers and other gifts for the women in their lives. In China, despite the country’s long history with International Women’s Day, recent holiday events have focused on shopping and beauty events, such as fashion shows. Last year, in a somewhat bizarre tribute, a group of Chinese men climbed a mountain in dresses and high heels as an attempt to 𠇎xperience the hardship” of being a woman.

A group of French demonstrators marching under the banner of the Movement for the Liberation of Women (MLF) on International Women’s day, 1981. (Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Due to its ties with socialism and communism, perhaps it’s not surprising that International Women’s Day didn’t catch on here in the United States the way it did in other countries. Recently, however, international digital marketing campaigns have brought the holiday (in its less-political form) further into American culture, complete with corporate support from PepsiCo and other brands. Other groupsਊre seeking to reclaim International Women’s Day and return it to its activist past, by continuing to demand recognition and rights for women and their work.


On March 8, 1945, The Seattle Public Library opens Fauntleroy Station at 4505 Wildwood Place SW to serve residents of southwest Seattle. World War II brings tens of thousands of new residents to West Seattle to work in shipyards and at Boeing, but the only library serving that part of the city is the West Seattle Branch. Fauntleroy Station will become a fixture in the community until 1961 when the Southwest Branch is opened.

Fauntleroy Station was open Monday and Thursday afternoons and it was an immediate hit with users. Library services were so popular that residents petitioned for a bookmobile to supplement the station. By 1957, the station was circulating 36,815 books a year, an average of more than 350 books a day.

The Southwest Branch was constructed in 1961 at 35th Avenue SW and SW Henderson Street with monies from a 1956 bond issue. Even though the new branch was larger and better and just 10 blocks distant, Fauntleroy loyalists asked the library board to keep it open. They objected to the hill between there and the new library and the lack of public transportation between the locations. The patrons stressed the importance the station occupied in the community.

The station closed in July 1961 and the books went to the Southwest Branch.

Seattle Public Library Foundation


"Fauntleroy Station -- Miscellaneous Papers," folder, archives, The Seattle Public Library "Fauntleroy Station -- Annual Reports," archives, The Seattle Public Library.

Post by Oberst_Emann » 13 Aug 2005, 21:34

Post by Acolyte » 14 Aug 2005, 19:17

It's interesting you see no mention of this battle at the History Department of the US Military Academy. The German counterattack is not even shown on their maps:

Post by Andreas » 09 May 2007, 12:07

I would still be very interested in further information on this battle from the Soviet side.

Post by Acolyte » 11 May 2007, 23:52

Post by Art » 14 May 2007, 16:37

Post by Kamen Nevenkin » 25 May 2007, 15:59

Following the request of the fellow forum member Andreas, I’m posting a lousy translation of a Soviet account on the battle of Lauban. It belongs to the history of the Soviet 3rd Tank Army (A.M.Zvartsev, 3-ya Gvardeiskaya Tankovaya, Moscow, Voenizdat, 1982, pp. 227 -234). IMO, it by no means could be characterized as "very short and biased". Here we go.

By 15 Febryary 1945 the Soviet Lower-Silesian operation was well in progress, but the German resistance grew heavier with every passing day. So Marshal Konev decided to capture a bridgehead on the opposite bank of Neisse river at Goerlitz using for that purpose the forces of his right wing, namely 3 GTA, 4 TA, 13 A and 52 A. At the same time the Front's left wing (6 A) was to seize Breslau. It was the 3 GTA that was given the task to capture Goerlitz and Lauban and force the Neisse. On that day it had 418 tanks and SU in running condition.

General Rybalko, the commander of the 3 GTArmy, decided to attack the German grouping in the Goerlitz area from two directions - from the NE with 6 GTCorps and from the east with 7 GTC. This decision, however turnued out to be not so clever, because the Army's intelligence had failed to recognize the arrival of strong German reinforcements in that area and the troops of the army were dispersed and were not able to deliver a concentrated blow. Soon Rybalko found out his own mistake and regrouped 7 GTC to the sector of 6 GTC, but valuable time was already lost, the offensive was postponed for two days and the 7 GTC was committed to the battle in piecemeal fashion.

6 GTC attacked on 17 Feb along the Noidorf [sic] - Gorlitz road, but having encountered fierce resistance on the western bank of the Gross-Chirne [sic] river advanced forward very slowly and ended that day engaged in heavy battles with enemy tanks some 4-5 km west of river Kweis [sic]. In the meantime 7 GTC reached river Kweis at Lauban, but was not able to cross it due to the heavy enemy fire from its left bank. That situation didn't mach Rybalko's expectations and he ordered 54 and 55 GTBrigades of 7 GTC to be transferred to the sector of 6 GTC and cross Kweis there using the bridges already prepared by the engineers of that corps at Noidorf. The objective assigned to the both brigades was to bypass Lauban to the north, and with "sudden strike", while cooperating with 56 GTBr and 23 GMotRifleBrigade that were to advance from the east, to capture Lauban. At 8:00 on 17 Feb 54 and 55 GTBr crossed Kweis and reached Noidorf but there they were met by heavy tank fire and were forced to switch over to defense at the southern suburbs of that settlement. In the meantime 56 GTBr and 23 GMRBr slowly approached Lauban from the east, but due to the fierce German resistance it took them a whole day to reach the outskirts of the town.

The situation worsened on the next day. The German Command had canceled all attacks in the vicinity of Jauer and Strigau and during the night of 17/18 Feb had transferred 8.PzD to the threatened Lauban sector, so when in the morning of 18 Feb 7 GTC renewed its offensive on Naumburg, it found itself attacked by fresh panzer troops at Lauban and Loewenberg. Because of this, the commander of 7 GTC moved the 56 GTBr (reinforced by one battalion of 23 GMRBr) to the east and ordered it to push the enemy away from Seifersdorf and the Lauban - Ottensdorf highway. That objective was achieved thanks to the combined efforts of the brigade and the newly arrived 57 GHeavy Tank Reg. In the Loewenberg sector the attacks of the 8.PzD were repulsed by the 9 GMechCorps.

On 19 Feb the Germans moved 408 InfDiv and 10 PGDiv to the Loewenberg sector, but the commander of the 9 MechCorps managed to deploy its forces between Loewenberg and Goldberg and to repulse all enemy attacks. The situation didn't change much on the next day and all tree corps remained involved in heavy battles.

In order to regain freedom of maneuver for the stuck 3 GTA, on 20 Feb Konev transferred one rifle division from 52 A to Loewenberg. This allowed Rybalko to pull out 9 MC and reinforce with it the sector of 7 GTC in attempt to destroy the enemy panzer grouping NE of Lauban. During 20-21 Feb the Soviet drive to Goerlitz rolled forward again, but the territorial gains were minimal. Lauban itself became a scene of bitter urban combat and some houses were recaptured several times. Grenadiers attacked the tanks with Panzerfausts and Soviet losses mounted considerably. By 21 Feb the tank brigades of the army had no more than 15 - 20 tanks left. It is not a wonder that on that day 7 GTC numbered only 55 tanks, while the armored strength of 9 MC was reduced to 48 tanks. Let alone that most of the AFV had been worn out and their technical resource was critically low. The personnel casualties were bloody too - the combat strength of 23 GMRBr, three battalions-strong, was down to 550 riflemen. The combatants were exhausted from the fruitless fighting and overal combat efficiency of the 3 GTA was critically low.

The bad condition of the Rybalko's troops produced worries in not only in the Konev's HQ, but even in Moscow. While at the HQ of 52 A, Konev received a call from Stalin himself and took him a lot of efforts to assure the Supreme Commander that the 3 GTA would achieve its objective and not fall victim of the fierce counterattacks of three German panzer divisions.

In order to crush the bitter enemy resistance at Lauban, Rybalko once again regrouped its troops and formed in the vicinty of the town a powerful grouping comprised 7 GTC, 51 and 53 GTBr of 6 GTC, part of 9 MC, 16 SP Arty Brigade, 57 GHTReg and several arty and mortar regiments. Furthermore, on 22 Feb 254 RifDiv from 52 A arrived in the sector of 6 GTC. The new attack produced some results and by the end of 22 Feb the both tank brigades of 6 GTC, in cooperation with the rifle division, were fighting for Nieder-Langenau and Gruenau. At the same time 54 and 55 GTBr of 7 GTC were still engaged in heavy street fighting in the northern and central parts of Lauban, where they were opposed by the units of 6 VGD and 17.PzD. In the town center all streets were barred by concrete anti-tank obstacles, something that most of the Soviet tankmen had never encountered before. Having destroyed 10 enemy tanks and up to a battalion of infantry, the both brigades seized the Wuenschendorf railway station, where they captured 4 trains with military materiel and liberated more than 300 Soviet citizens that had been used for slave labor.

The German reaction to the Soviet gains in Lauban was swift and already on 23 Feb their command moved to Lauban the recently formed Infantry Regiment 1461 [sic] and 55th Machinegun Battalion [sic]. In order to smash the enemy resistance within the town, Rybalko regrouped there all of the remaining units of 7 GTC and 9 MC and further reinforced them with artillery and army troops. Nevertheless, the battle soon deadlocked and struggle was transformed into a positional warfare. The Soviet forces lacked the necessary infantry strength so much needed for such kind of combat and by the end of 27 Feb very few gains were made - only several blocks in the northern and southern districts of the town. Still worse, during the night the Germans counterattacked and recaptured those thinly defended blocks. On 28 Feb the brigades of the corps and the newly arrived 214 Rif Div of 52 A kept fighting for Lauban but no significant progress was made. The Germans, in turn, moved another three battalions and up to 30 Panzers and StuG in the northern and western districts of Lauban and once again checked the advance of the Soviets.

At the same time 6 GTC was slowly adavnced towards Neisse and Goerlitz, while 9 MC was repelling the enemy attacks against the left flank of the 3 GTA.

On 3 March the German troops surprisingly attacked the 6 GTC with 17.PzD and 6.VGD, while FBDiv and 8.PzD struck 9 MC thus threatening to encircle the Soviet troops fighting in Lauban. On 4-5 March the Germans managed to push back the brigades of the 6 GTC in the Hennersdorf – Steigau sector, crossed the Kweiss river and reached Logau. In the meantime FGDiv, supported by 20 tanks, attacked 7 GTC in attempt to encircle Lauban. On the left flank the enemy breached the positions of 9 MC and reached Naumburg. Rybalko, who had arrived at the HQ of 9 MC, decided to commit his reserve. He ordered 53 GTBr with 248 Rifle Reg to attack hill 256, destroy the enemy and take Seifersdorf.

After an intensive fire preparation by Katyusha rocket launchers, 53 GTBr moved forward. The attack was led by the platoon of junior-lieutenant S.M.Zaboryev. Zaboryev’s T-34 was the first who reached the railway embankment where the first engagement with the enemy took place. His tank destroyed 2 panzers, 2 SPW and up to 40 soldiers, but then was hit and Zaboryev died a hero’s death. For that action he was post-mortem awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union. The counterattack was successful - those enemy panzers that had penetrated into the rear of the 9 MC had been wiped out by the tankmen of 53 GTBr, the SP artillerymen of 16 SP Arty Br and by the artillerymen of 9 MC. The enemy infantry, deprived from tank support, was surrounded in the woods south of Naumburg and shot to pieces.

Having failed to envelop Lauban, on 5 March the Germans launched direct attacks on the town from the north and the south. The understrength brigades of 7 GTC kept repelling the enemy attacks and very often one Soviet tank was fighting again 5 –7 German machines. Rybalko was now aware that Lauban could no longer be held and asked Konev for permission to evacuate the town. Konev sanctioned the withdrawal.

In the morning of 6 March 3 GTA occupied a new defensive line running some 5-6 km north and east of Lauban. From 6 to 12 March both 52 A and 3 GTA were repulsing local German attacks. On 13-14 March 3 GTA was pulled out and deployed at Bunzlau to rest and refit. At that moment it had 255 tanks and SU.

Some additional info from BA-MA.

(2 March):
38 PzIV (12 Operational), 18 PzV (2), 10 PzIV/70 (3), 9 JgPz 38 (7), 14 sPak (Sfl + mot Z) (12). Moreover 15 PzV and 10 PzIV/70 were en route for the division (they most probably arrived on 4 and 5 March respectively).

16.PzD was thrown in combat on 5 March in the vicinity of Langenöls (northeast of Lauban). On the same day it had the following strength:
8 PzIV (1 operational), 13 PzV (10), 2 BefPzV (2), 17 PzIV/70 (14), 36 StuGIII (32), 1 StuGIV (0), 11 JgPz38 (11), 1 PzBeobIII, 2 lePzSpWg (SdKfz 222), 1 sPzSpWg (SdKfz 234/3), 3 sPzSpWg (SdKfz 234/4), 1 leFH (Sfl), 28 leFH (mot Z) and 8 8.8-cm sFlak (mot Z).

(1 March):
1 Pz III, 31 Pz IV and 9 sPak (Sfl).

(8 March):
9 PzIV, 20 PzIV/70, 3 FlakPzIV/2-cm Flak-Vierl, 1 BefPzIII, 2 PzII Ausf L, 4 lePzSpWg, 4 sPzSpWg, 9 leSPW, 35 mSPW, 1 sPak (Sfl) (SdKfz 138), 8 sPak (mot Z), 19 leFH (mot Z), 9 sFH (mot Z) and 3 10.5-cm sK(mot Z).

(1 March):
39 Pz IV and Pz IV/70 (16 operational), 20 PzV (10) and 29 StuG (10)

(8 March):
8 PzIV (6 operational), 2 BefPzIV (1), 19 PzV (6), 38 StuGIII (8), 20 StuGIV (3), 5 StuH (0), 3 FlakPzIV/2-cm Flak-Vierl (2) and 2 FlakPzIV/3.7-cm (0).

(1 March):
5 Pz IV (3 operational), 17 PzV (10) and 33 StuG (22)

(8 March):
3 PzIV (1 operational), 26 PzV (4), 2 BefPzV (2), 9 JgPzV (5), 15 StuGIII (4), 27 StuGIV (6), 3 StuH (2), 4 FlakPzIV (2), 5 PzBeobIV (3), 6 leFH (Sfl) (5) and 12 leFH (Sfl) (9).

Sorry, but I have no idea about the strength of the other German units fighting in the area, namely PzBrig 103, 6.VGD and the battle group of 21.PzD.


Former paramount leader Hu Jintao stated the missions of the PLA as: [17]

  • The insurance the leadership of the party
  • The protection of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, internal security and national development of the People's Republic of China
  • Safeguarding the country's interests
  • And the maintenance and safeguarding of world peace

Second Sino-Japanese War Edit

The People's Liberation Army was founded on 1 August 1927 during the Nanchang uprising when troops of the Kuomintang (KMT) rebelled under the leadership of Zhu De, He Long, Ye Jianying and Zhou Enlai after the Shanghai massacre of 1927 by Chiang Kai-shek. They were then known as the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, or simply the Red Army. Between 1934 and 1935, the Red Army survived several campaigns led against it by Chiang Kai-Shek and engaged in the Long March.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945, the Communist military forces were nominally integrated into the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China forming two main units known as the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army. During this time, these two military groups primarily employed guerrilla tactics, generally avoiding large-scale battles with the Japanese with some exceptions while at the same time consolidating their ground by absorbing nationalist troops and paramilitary forces behind Japanese lines into their forces. After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the Communist Party merged the Eighth Route Army and New Fourth Army, renaming the new million-strong force the "People's Liberation Army". They eventually won the Chinese Civil War, establishing the People's Republic of China in 1949. The PLA then saw a huge reorganisation with the establishment of the Air Force leadership structure in November 1949 followed by the Navy leadership the following April. In 1950, the leadership structures of the artillery, armoured troops, air defence troops, public security forces, and worker–soldier militias were also established. The chemical warfare defence forces, the railroad forces, the communications forces, and the strategic forces, as well as other separate forces (like engineering and construction, logistics and medical services), were established later on, all these depended on the leadership of the Communist Party and the National People's Congress via the Central Military Commission (and until 1975 the National Defense Council).

1950s, 1960s and 1970s Edit

During the 1950s, the PLA with Soviet assistance began to transform itself from a peasant army into a modern one. [18] Since 1949, China has used nine different military strategies, which the PLA calls "strategic guidelines". The most important came in 1956, 1980, and 1993. [16] Part of this process was the reorganisation that created thirteen military regions in 1955. The PLA also contained many former National Revolutionary Army units and generals who had defected to the PLA. Ma Hongbin and his son Ma Dunjing were the only two Muslim generals who led a Muslim unit, the 81st corps, to ever serve in the PLA. Han Youwen, a Salar Muslim general, also defected to the PLA. In November 1950, some units of the PLA under the name of the People's Volunteer Army intervened in the Korean War as United Nations forces under General Douglas MacArthur approached the Yalu River. Under the weight of this offensive, Chinese forces drove MacArthur's forces out of North Korea and captured Seoul, but were subsequently pushed back south of Pyongyang north of the 38th Parallel. The war also served as a catalyst for the rapid modernization of the PLAAF. In 1962, the PLA ground force also fought India in the Sino-Indian War, achieving all objectives.

Prior to the Cultural Revolution, military region commanders tended to remain in their posts for long periods of time. As the PLA took a stronger role in politics, this began to be seen as somewhat of a threat to the party's (or, at least, civilian) control of the military. The longest-serving military region commanders were Xu Shiyou in the Nanjing Military Region (1954–74), Yang Dezhi in the Jinan Military Region (1958–74), Chen Xilian in the Shenyang Military Region (1959–73), and Han Xianchu in the Fuzhou Military Region (1960–74). The establishment of a professional military force equipped with modern weapons and doctrine was the last of the Four Modernizations announced by Zhou Enlai and supported by Deng Xiaoping. In keeping with Deng's mandate to reform, the PLA has demobilized millions of men and women since 1978 and has introduced modern methods in such areas as recruitment and manpower, strategy, and education and training. In 1979, the PLA fought Vietnam over a border skirmish in the Sino-Vietnamese War where both sides claimed victory.

During the Sino-Soviet split, strained relations between China and the Soviet Union resulted in bloody border clashes and mutual backing of each other's adversaries. China and Afghanistan had neutral relations with each other during the King's rule. When the pro-Soviet Afghan Communists seized power in Afghanistan in 1978, relations between China and the Afghan communists quickly turned hostile. The Afghan pro-Soviet communists supported China's enemies in Vietnam and blamed China for supporting Afghan anti-communist militants. China responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by supporting the Afghan mujahideen and ramping up their military presence near Afghanistan in Xinjiang. China acquired military equipment from the United States to defend itself from Soviet attack. [19]

The People's Liberation Army Ground Force trained and supported the Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan War, moving its training camps for the mujahideen from Pakistan into China itself. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of anti-aircraft missiles, rocket launchers, and machine guns were given to the Mujahideen by the Chinese. Chinese military advisors and army troops were also present with the Mujahideen during training. [20]

Since 1980 Edit

In 1981, the PLA conducted its largest military exercise in North China since the founding of the People's Republic. In the 1980s, China shrunk its military considerably to free up resources for economic development, resulting in the relative decline in resources devoted to the PLA. Following the PLA's suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, ideological correctness was temporarily revived as the dominant theme in Chinese military affairs. Reform and modernisation have today resumed their position as the PLA's primary objectives, although the armed forces' political loyalty to the CCP has remained a leading concern. Another area of concern to the political leadership was the PLA's involvement in civilian economic activities. These activities were thought to have impacted PLA readiness and has led the political leadership to attempt to divest the PLA from its non-military business interests.

Beginning in the 1980s, the PLA tried to transform itself from a land-based power centred on a vast ground force to a smaller, more mobile, high-tech one capable of mounting operations beyond its borders. The motivation for this was that a massive land invasion by Russia was no longer seen as a major threat, and the new threats to China are seen to be a declaration of independence by Taiwan, possibly with assistance from the United States, or a confrontation over the Spratly Islands. In 1985, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the CMC, the PLA changed from being constantly prepared to "hit early, strike hard and to fight a nuclear war" to developing the military in an era of peace. The PLA reoriented itself to modernization, improving its fighting ability, and to become a world-class force. Deng Xiaoping stressed that the PLA needed to focus more on quality rather than on quantity. The decision of the Chinese government in 1985 to reduce the size of the military by one million was completed by 1987. Staffing in military leadership was cut by about 50 percent. During the Ninth Five Year Plan (1996–2000) the PLA was reduced by a further 500,000. The PLA had also been expected to be reduced by another 200,000 by 2005. The PLA has focused on increasing mechanisation and informatization so as to be able to fight a high-intensity war. [21]

Former CMC chairman Jiang Zemin in 1990 called on the military to "meet political standards, be militarily competent, have a good working style, adhere strictly to discipline, and provide vigorous logistic support" (Chinese: 政治合格、军事过硬、作风优良、纪律严明、保障有力 pinyin: zhèngzhì hégé, jūnshì guòyìng, zuòfēng yōuliáng, jìlǜ yánmíng, bǎozhàng yǒulì ). [22] The 1991 Gulf War provided the Chinese leadership with a stark realisation that the PLA was an oversized, almost-obsolete force. The possibility of a militarised Japan has also been a continuous concern to the Chinese leadership since the late 1990s. In addition, China's military leadership has been reacting to and learning from the successes and failures of the American military during the Kosovo War, the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the Iraqi insurgency. All these lessons inspired China to transform the PLA from a military based on quantity to one based on quality. Chairman Jiang Zemin officially made a "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA) part of the official national military strategy in 1993 to modernise the Chinese armed forces. A goal of the RMA is to transform the PLA into a force capable of winning what it calls "local wars under high-tech conditions" rather than a massive, numbers-dominated ground-type war. Chinese military planners call for short decisive campaigns, limited in both their geographic scope and their political goals. In contrast to the past, more attention is given to reconnaissance, mobility, and deep reach. This new vision has shifted resources towards the navy and air force. The PLA is also actively preparing for space warfare and cyber-warfare.

For the past 10 to 20 years, the PLA has acquired some advanced weapons systems from Russia, including Sovremenny class destroyers, Sukhoi Su-27 and Sukhoi Su-30 aircraft, and Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines. It has also started to produce several new classes of destroyers and frigates including the Type 052D class guided missile destroyer. In addition, the PLAAF has designed its very own Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft and a new stealth fighter, the Chengdu J-20. The PLA launched the new Jin class nuclear submarines on 3 December 2004 capable of launching nuclear warheads that could strike targets across the Pacific Ocean and have two aircraft carriers, one commissioned in 2012 and a second launched in 2017.

In 2015, the PLA formed new units including the PLA Ground Force, the PLA Rocket Force and the PLA Strategic Support Force. [23]

The PLA on 1 August 2017 marked the 90th anniversary since its establishment, before the big anniversary it mounted its biggest parade yet and the first outside of Beijing, held in the Zhurihe Training Base in the Northern Theater Command (within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region), the first time it had ever been done to mark PLA Day as past parades had already been on 1 October, National Day of the PRC.

Peacekeeping Operations Edit

The People's Republic of China has sent the PLA to various hotspots as part of China's role as a prominent member of the United Nations. Such units usually include engineers and logistical units and members of the paramilitary People's Armed Police and have been deployed as part of peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, [24] the Republic of the Congo, [25] Sudan, [26] Ivory Coast, [27] Haiti, [28] and more recently, Mali and South Sudan.

Notable Campaigns Edit

  • 1927–1950: Chinese Civil War
  • 1937–1945: Second Sino-Japanese War
  • 1949: Yangtze incident against British warships on the Yangtze river.
  • 1949: Incorporation of Xinjiang into the People's Republic of China
  • 1950: Incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China
  • 1950–1953: Korean War under the banner of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army.
  • 1954–1955: First Taiwan Strait Crisis.
  • 1955–1970: Vietnam War.
  • 1958: Second Taiwan Strait Crisis at Quemoy and Matsu.
  • 1962: Sino-Indian War.
  • 1967: Border skirmishes with India.
  • 1969: Sino-Soviet border conflict.
  • 1974: Battle of the Paracel Islands with South Vietnam.
  • 1979: Sino-Vietnamese War.
  • 1979–1990: Sino-Vietnamese conflicts 1979–1990.
  • 1988: Johnson South Reef Skirmish with Vietnam.
  • 1989: Enforcement of martial law in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
  • 1990: Baren Township riot.
  • 1995–1996: Third Taiwan Strait Crisis.
  • 1997: PLA Control of Hong Kong's Military Defense
  • 1999: PLA Control of Macau's Military Defense
  • 2007–present: UNIFIL peacekeeping operations in Lebanon
  • 2009–present: Anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden
  • 2014: Search and rescue efforts for Flight MH370
  • 2014: UN Peacekeeping operations in Mali
  • 2015: UNMISS peacekeeping operations in South Sudan

National Military Command Edit

The state military system upholds the principle of the CCP's absolute leadership over the armed forces. The party and the State jointly established the CMC that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 Constitution stated that the State President directs the armed forces and made the State President the chairman of the Defense Commission. The Defense Commission is an advisory body and does not hold any actual power over the armed forces. On 28 September 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the CMC as the commanding organ of the PLA. From that time onward, the current system of a joint system of party and state leadership of the military was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State President directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces which is managed by the State Council.

To ensure the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the armed forces, every level of party committee in the military forces implements the principles of democratic centralism. In addition, division-level and higher units establish political commissars and political organisations, ensuring that the branch organisations are in line. These systems combined the party organisation with the military organisation to achieve the party's leadership and administrative leadership. This is seen as the key guarantee to the absolute leadership of the party over the military.

In October 2014 the People's Liberation Army Daily reminded readers of the Gutian Congress, which stipulated the basic principle of the Party controlling the military, and called for vigilance as "[f]oreign hostile forces preach the nationalization and de-politicization of the military, attempting to muddle our minds and drag our military out from under the Party's flag." [29]

Leadership Edit

The leadership by the CCP is a fundamental principle of the Chinese military command system. The PLA reports not to the State Council but rather to two Central Military Commissions, one belonging to the state and one belonging to the party.

In practice, the two central military commissions usually do not contradict each other because their membership is usually identical. Often, the only difference in membership between the two occurs for a few months every five years, during the period between a party congress, when Party CMC membership changes, and the next ensuing National People's Congress, when the state CMC changes. The CMC carries out its responsibilities as authorised by the Constitution and National Defense Law. [30]

The leadership of each type of military force is under the leadership and management of the corresponding part of the Central Military Commission of the CCP Central Committee. Forces under each military branch or force such as the subordinate forces, academies and schools, scientific research and engineering institutions and logistical support organisations are also under the leadership of the CMC. This arrangement has been especially useful as China over the past several decades has moved increasingly towards military organisations composed of forces from more than one military branch. In September 1982, to meet the needs of modernisation and to improve co-ordination in the command of forces including multiple service branches and to strengthen unified command of the military, the CMC ordered the abolition of the leadership organisation of the various military branches. Today, the PLA has air force, navy and second artillery leadership organs.

In 1986, the People's Armed Forces Department, except in some border regions, was placed under the joint leadership of the PLA and the local authorities. Although the local party organisations paid close attention to the People's Armed Forces Department, as a result of some practical problems, the CMC decided that from 1 April 1996, the People's Armed Forces Department would once again fall under the jurisdiction of the PLA.

According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the CMC is composed of the following: the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Members. The Chairman of the Central Military Commission has overall responsibility for the commission.

    (also General Secretary, President and Commander-in-chief of Joint Battle Command)
  • Air Force General Xu Qiliang
  • General Zhang Youxia
    – General Wei Fenghe
  • Chief of the Joint staff – General Li Zuocheng
  • Director of the Political Work Department – Admiral Miao Hua
  • Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection – General Zhang Shengmin

Central Military Commission Edit

In December 1982, the fifth National People's Congress revised the state constitution to state that the State Central Military Commission leads all the armed forces of the state. The chairman of the State CMC is chosen and removed by the full NPC while the other members are chosen by the NPC standing committee. However, the CMC of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party remained the party organisation that directly commands the military and all the other armed forces.

In actual practice, the party CMC, after consultation with the democratic parties, proposes the names of the State CMC members of the NPC so that these people after going through the legal processes can be elected by the NPC to the State Central Military Commission. That is to say, that the CMC of the Central Committee and the CMC of the State are one group and one organisation. However, looking at it organizationally, these two CMCs are subordinate to two different systems – the party system and the state system. Therefore, the armed forces are under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and are also the armed forces of the state. This is a unique joint leadership system that reflects the origin of the PLA as the military branch of the Communist Party. It only became the national military when the People's Republic of China was established in 1949.

By convention, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission are civilian members of the Chinese Communist Party, but they are not necessarily the heads of the civilian government. Both Jiang Zemin and Deng Xiaoping retained the office of chairman even after relinquishing their other positions. All of the other members of the CMC are uniformed active military officials. Unlike other nations, the Minister of National Defense is not the head of the military, but is usually a vice-chairman of the CMC.

In 2012, to attempt to reduce corruption at the highest rungs of the leadership of the Chinese military, the commission banned the service of alcohol at military receptions. [31]

2016 Military Reforms Edit

On 1 January 2016, the CMC released a guideline [32] on deepening national defense and military reform, about a month after CMC Chairman Xi Jinping called for an overhaul of the military administration and command system at a key meeting setting the stage for one of the most sweeping military reforms since the founding of the country.

On 11 January 2016 in one of the most sweeping military reforms since the founding of the People's Republic the PLA was restructured and a joint staff department directly attached to the CMC, the highest leadership organization in the military was created. The previous four general headquarters of the PLA were disbanded and completely reformed. They were divided into 15 functional departments instead — a significant expansion from the domain of the General Office, which is now a single department within the Central Military Commission .

  1. General Office (办公厅)
  2. Joint Staff Department (联合参谋部)
  3. Political Work Department (政治工作部)
  4. Logistic Support Department (后勤保障部)
  5. Equipment Development Department (装备发展部)
  6. Training and Administration Department (训练管理部)
  7. National Defense Mobilization Department (国防动员部)
  8. Discipline Inspection Commission (纪律检查委员会)
  9. Politics and Legal Affairs Commission (政法委员会)
  10. Science and Technology Commission (科学技术委员会)
  11. Office for Strategic Planning (战略规划办公室)
  12. Office for Reform and Organizational Structure (改革和编制办公室)
  13. Office for International Military Cooperation (国际军事合作办公室)
  14. Audit Office (审计署)
  15. Agency for Offices Administration (机关事务管理总局)

Included among the 15 departments are three commissions. The CMC Discipline Inspection Commission is charged with rooting out corruption.

Central Military Commission
Departments Commissions Offices Forces Directly under the CMC Research institutes
General Office Discipline Inspection Commission Office for Strategic Planning Joint Logistic Support Force [33] Academy of Military Science
Joint Staff Department Politics and Legal Affairs Commission Office for Reform and Organizational Structure National Defence University
Political Work Department Science and Technology Commission Office for International Military Cooperation National University of Defense Technology
Logistic Support Department Audit Office
Equipment Development Department Agency for Offices Administration
Training and Administration Department
National Defense Mobilization Department
Theater commands Service Branches
Eastern Theater Command PLA Ground Force
Western Theater Command PLA Navy
Southern Theater Command PLA Air Force
Northern Theater Command PLA Rocket Force
Central Theater Command PLA Strategic Support Force
People's Liberation Army

Theater Commands Edit

Until 2016, China's territory was divided into seven military regions, but they were reorganized into five theater commands in early 2016. This reflects a change in their concept of operations from primarily ground-oriented to mobile and coordinated movement of all services. [35] The five new theatre commands are:

The PLA garrisons in Hong Kong and Macau both come under the Southern Theater Command.

The military reforms have also introduced a major change in the areas of responsibilities. Rather than separately commanding their own troops, service branches are now primarily responsible for administrative tasks (like equipping and maintaining the troops). It is the theater commands now that have the command authority. This should, in theory, facilitate the implementation of joint operations across all service branches. [36]

Coordination with civilian national security groups such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is achieved primarily by the leading groups of the Chinese Communist Party. Particularly important are the leading groups on foreign affairs, which include those dealing with Taiwan.

Ranks Edit

Officers Edit

Other ranks Edit

The PLA encompasses five main service branches: the Ground Force, the Navy, the Air Force, the Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force. Following the 200,000 troop reduction announced in 2003, the total strength of the PLA has been reduced from 2.5 million to just under 2.3 million. Further reforms will see an additional 300,000 personnel reduction from its current strength of 2.28 million personnel. The reductions will come mainly from non-combat ground forces, which will allow more funds to be diverted to naval, air, and strategic missile forces. This shows China's shift from ground force prioritisation to emphasising air and naval power with high-tech equipment for offensive roles over disputed coastal territories. [38]

In recent years, the PLA has paid close attention to the performance of US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. As well as learning from the success of the US military in network-centric warfare, joint operations, C4ISR, and hi-tech weaponry, the PLA is also studying unconventional tactics that could be used to exploit the vulnerabilities of a more technologically advanced enemy. This has been reflected in the two parallel guidelines for the PLA ground forces development. While speeding up the process of introducing new technology into the force and retiring the older equipment, the PLA has also placed an emphasis on asymmetric warfare, including exploring new methods of using existing equipment to defeat a technologically superior enemy.

In addition to the four main service branches, the PLA is supported by two paramilitary organisations: the People's Armed Police (including the China Coast Guard) and the Militia (including the maritime militia).

Ground Force (PLAGF) Edit

The PLA is estimated to have a ground force composing of 975,000 personnel, approximately half of the PLA's total manpower of around 2 million. [39] The ground forces are divided among the five theatre commands as named above. In times of crisis, the ground Force is reinforced by numerous reserve and paramilitary units. The PLAGF reserve component is composed of 510,000 personnel divided into 30 infantry and 12 anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) divisions. In recent years two amphibious mechanised divisions were also established in Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions. At least 40 percent of PLA divisions and brigades are now mechanised or armoured, twice the percentage before 2015.

While much of the PLA Ground Force was being reduced over the past few years, technology-intensive elements such as special operations forces (SOF), army aviation, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and electronic warfare units have all experienced rapid expansion. The latest operational doctrine of the PLA ground forces highlights the importance of information technology, electronic and information warfare, and long-range precision strikes in future warfare. The older generation telephone/radio-based command, control, and communications (C3) systems are being replaced by an integrated battlefield information networks featuring local/wide-area networks (LAN/WAN), satellite communications, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based surveillance and reconnaissance systems, and mobile command and control centres. [40]

On 1 January 2016, as part of military reforms, China created for the first time a separate headquarters for the ground forces. [41] China's ground forces have never had their own headquarters until now. Previously, the People's Liberation Army's Four General Departments served as the de facto army headquarters, functioning together as the equivalent of a joint staff, to which the navy, air force and the newly renamed Rocket Force would report. The Commander of the PLA Ground Force is Han Weiguo. The Political Commissar is Liu Lei.

Navy (PLAN) Edit

Until the early 1990s, the navy performed a subordinate role to the PLA Land Forces. Since then it has undergone rapid modernisation. The 250,000 strong People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is organised into three major fleets: the North Sea Fleet headquartered at Qingdao, the East Sea Fleet headquartered at Ningbo, and the South Sea Fleet headquartered in Zhanjiang. Each fleet consists of a number of surface ship, submarine, naval air force, coastal defence, and marine units. [42]

The navy includes a 25,000 strong Marine Corps (organised into seven brigades), a 26,000 strong Naval Aviation Force operating several hundred attack helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. [43] As part of its overall programme of naval modernisation, the PLAN is in the stage of developing a blue water navy. In November 2012, then Party General Secretary Hu Jintao reported to the Chinese Communist Party 18th National Congress his desire to "enhance our capacity for exploiting marine resource and build China into a strong maritime power". [44]

Air Force (PLAAF) Edit

The 395,000 strong People's Liberation Army Air Force is organised into five Theater Command Air Forces (TCAF) and 24 air divisions. [45] The largest operational units within the Aviation Corps is the air division, which has 2 to 3 aviation regiments, each with 20 to 36 aircraft. The surface-to-air missile (SAM) Corps is organised into SAM divisions and brigades. There are also three airborne divisions manned by the PLAAF. J-XX and XXJ are names applied by Western intelligence agencies to describe programs by the People's Republic of China to develop one or more fifth-generation fighter aircraft. [46] [47]

Rocket Force (PLARF) Edit

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) is the main strategic missile force of the PLA and consists of at least 120,000 personnel. [48] It controls China's nuclear and conventional strategic missiles. China's total nuclear arsenal size is estimated to be between 100 and 400 thermonuclear warheads.

Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) Edit

Founded on 31 December 2015 as part of the first wave of reforms of the PLA, the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force was established as the newest and latest branch of the PLA. Personnel numbers are estimated at 175,000. [49] Initial announcements regarding the Strategic Support Force did not provide much detail, but Yang Yujun of the Chinese Ministry of Defense described it as an integration of all current combat support forces including but limited to: space, cyber, electronic and intelligence branches. Additionally, commentators have speculated that the new service branch will include high-tech operations forces such as space, cyberspace and electronic warfare operations units, independent of other branches of the military. [50] Yin Zhuo, rear admiral of the People's Liberation Army Navy and member of the eleventh Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said that "the major mission of the PLA Strategic Support Force is the provision of support to the combat operations so that the PLA can gain regional advantages in the aerospace, space, network and electromagnetic space warfare and ensure integrated operations in the conduction of US joint warfare style operations." [51]

Technically, military service with the PLA is obligatory for all Chinese citizens. In practice, mandatory military service has not been implemented since 1949 as the People's Liberation Army has been able to recruit sufficient numbers voluntarily. [52] All 18-year-old males have to register themselves with the government authorities, in a way similar to the Selective Service System of the United States. In practice, registering does not mean that the person doing so must join the People's Liberation Army. [ citation needed ]

Article 55 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China prescribes conscription by stating: "It is a sacred duty of every citizen of the People's Republic of China to defend his or her motherland and resist invasion. It is an honoured obligation of the citizens of the People's Republic of China to perform military service and to join the militia forces." [53] The 1984 Military Service Law spells out the legal basis of conscription, describing military service as a duty for "all citizens without distinction of race. and religious creed". This law has not been amended since it came into effect. Technically, those 18–22 years of age enter selective compulsory military service, with a 24-month service obligation. In reality, numbers of registering personals are enough to support all military posts in China, creating "volunteer conscription". [54]

Residents of the Special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, are exempted from joining the military.

Joint Staff Department Edit

The Joint Staff Department carries out staff and operational functions for the PLA and had major responsibility for implementing military modernisation plans. Headed by chief of general staff, the department serves as the headquarters for the entire PLA and contained directorates for the five armed services: Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, Rocket Forces and Support Forces. The Joint Staff Department included functionally organised subdepartments for operations, training, intelligence, mobilisation, surveying, communications and politics, the departments for artillery, armoured units, quartermaster units and joint forces engineering units were later dissolved, with the former two forming now part of the Ground Forces, the engineering formations now split amongst the service branches and the quartermaster formations today form part of the Joint Logistics Forces.

Navy Headquarters controls the North Sea Fleet, East Sea Fleet, and South Sea Fleet. Air Force Headquarters generally exercised control through the commanders of the five theater commands. Nuclear forces were directly subordinate to the Joint Staff Department through the Rocket Forces commander and political commissar. Conventional main, regional, and militia units were controlled administratively by the theater commanders, but the Joint Staff Department in Beijing could assume direct operational control of any main-force unit at will. Thus, broadly speaking, the Joint Staff Department exercises operational control of the main forces, and the theater commanders controlled as always the regional forces and, indirectly, the militia. The post of principal intelligence official in the top leadership of the Chinese military has been taken up by a number of people of several generations, from Li Kenong in the 1950s to Xiong Guangkai in the late 1990s and their public capacity has always been assistant to the deputy chief of staff or assistant to the chief of staff.

Ever since the CCP officially established the system of "theater commands" for its army in the 2010s as a successor to the "major military regions" policy of the 1950s, the intelligence agencies inside the Army have, after going through several major evolutions, developed into the present three major military intelligence setups:

  1. The central level is composed of the Second and Third Departments under the Joint Staff Headquarters and the Liaison Department under the Political Work Department.
  2. At the Theater Command level intelligence activities consist of the Second Bureau established at the same level as the Operation Department under the headquarters, and the Liaison Department established under the Political Work Department.
  3. The third system includes a number of communications stations directly established in the garrison areas of all the theater commands by the Third Department of the Joint Staff Headquarters.

The Second Bureau under the headquarters and the Liaison Department under the Political Work Departments of the theater commands are only subjected to the "professional leadership" of their "counterpart" units under the Central Military Commission and are still considered the direct subordinate units of the major military region organizationally. Those entities whose names include the word "institute", all research institutes under the charge of the Second and the Third Departments of the Joint Staff Headquarters, including other research organs inside the Army, are at least of the establishment size of the full regimental level. Among the deputy commanders of a major Theater command in China, there is always one who is assigned to take charge of intelligence work, and the intelligence agencies under his charge are directly affiliated to the headquarters and the political department of the corresponding theater command.

The Conference on Strengthening Intelligence Work held from 3 September 1996 – 18 September 1996 at the Xishan Command Center of the Ministry of State Security and the General Staff Department. Chi Haotian delivered a report entitled "Strengthen Intelligence Work in a New International Environment To Serve the Cause of Socialist Construction." The report emphasised the need to strengthen the following four aspects of intelligence work:

  • Efforts must be made to strengthen understanding of the special nature and role of intelligence work, as well as understanding of the close relationship between strengthening intelligence work on the one hand, and of the Four Modernizations of the motherland, the reunification of the motherland, and opposition to hegemony and power politics on the other.
  • The United States and the West have all along been engaged in infiltration, intervention, sabotage, and intelligence gathering against China on the political, economic, military, and ideological fronts. The response must strengthen the struggle against their infiltration, intervention, sabotage, and intelligence gathering.
  • Consolidating intelligence departments and training a new generation of intelligence personnel who are politically reliable, honest and upright in their ways, and capable of mastering professional skills, the art of struggle, and advanced technologies.
  • Strengthening the work of organising intelligence in two international industrial, commercial, and financial ports—Hong Kong and Macau.

Although the four aspects emphasised by Chi Haotian appeared to be defensive measures, they were in fact both defensive and offensive in nature.

Second Department Edit

The Second Department of the Joint Staff Headquarters is responsible for collecting military intelligence. Activities include military attachés at Chinese embassies abroad, clandestine special agents sent to foreign countries to collect military information, and the analysis of information publicly published in foreign countries. This section of the PLA Joint Staff Headquarters act in similar capacity to its civilian counterpart the Ministry of State Security.

The Second Department oversees military human intelligence (HUMINT) collection, widely exploits open source (OSINT) materials, fuses HUMINT, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and imagery intelligence data, and disseminates finished intelligence products to the CMC and other consumers. Preliminary fusion is carried out by the Second Department's Analysis Bureau which mans the National Watch Center, the focal point for national-level indications and warning. In-depth analysis is carried out by regional bureaus. Although traditionally the Second Department of the Joint Staff Department was responsible for military intelligence, it is beginning to increasingly focus on scientific and technological intelligence in the military field, following the example of Russian agencies in stepping up the work of collecting scientific and technological information.

The research institute under the Second Department of the Joint Staff Headquarters is publicly known as the Institute for International Strategic Studies its internal classified publication "Foreign Military Trends" ("外军动态", Wai Jun Dongtai) is published every 10 days and transmitted to units at the division level.

The PLA Institute of International Relations at Nanjing comes under the Second Department of the Joint Staff Department and is responsible for training military attachés, assistant military attachés and associate military attachés as well as secret agents to be posted abroad. It also supplies officers to the military intelligence sections of various military regions and group armies. The institute was formed from the PLA "793" Foreign Language Institute, which moved from Zhangjiakou after the Cultural Revolution and split into two institutions at Luoyang and Nanjing.

The Institute of International Relations was known in the 1950s as the School for Foreign Language Cadres of the Central Military Commission, with the current name being used since 1964. The training of intelligence personnel is one of several activities at the institute. While all graduates of the Moscow Institute of International Relations were employed by the KGB, only some graduates of the Beijing Institute of International Relations are employed by the Ministry of State Security. The former Institute of International Relations, since been renamed the Foreign Affairs College, is under the administration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is not involved in secret intelligence work. The former Central Military Commission foreign language school had foreign faculty members who were either Communist Party sympathizers or were members of foreign communist parties. But the present Institute of International Relations does not hire foreign teachers, to avoid the danger that its students might be recognised when sent abroad as clandestine agents.

Those engaged in professional work in military academies under the Second Department of the Joint Staff Headquarters usually have a chance to go abroad, either for advanced studies or as military officers working in the military attaché's office of Chinese embassies in foreign countries. People working in the military attaché's office of embassies are usually engaged in collecting military information under the cover of "military diplomacy". As long as they refrain from directly subversive activities, they are considered as well-behaved "military diplomats".

Some bureaus under the Second Department which are responsible for espionage in different regions, of which the First Bureau is responsible for collecting information in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and also in Taiwan. Agents are dispatched by the Second Department to companies and other local corporations to gain cover.

The "Autumn Orchid" intelligence group assigned to Hong Kong and Macau in the mid-1980s mostly operated in the mass media, political, industrial, commercial, and religious circles, as well as in universities and colleges. The "Autumn Orchid" intelligence group was mainly responsible for the following three tasks:

  • Finding out and keeping abreast of the political leanings of officials of the Hong Kong and Macau governments, as well as their views on major issues, through social contact with them and through information provided by them.
  • Keeping abreast of the developments of foreign governments' political organs in Hong Kong, as well as of foreign financial, industrial, and commercial organisations.
  • Finding out and having a good grasp of the local media's sources of information on political, military, economic, and other developments on the mainland, and deliberately releasing false political or military information to the media to test the outside response.

The "Autumn Orchid" intelligence group was awarded a Citation for Merit, Second Class, in December 1994. It was further awarded another Citation for Merit, Second Class, in 1997. Its current status is not publicly known. During the 2008 Chinese New Year celebration CCTV held for Chinese diplomatic establishments, the head of the Second Department of the Joint Headquarters was revealed for the first time to the public: the current head was Major General Yang Hui (杨晖).

Third Department Edit

The Third Department of the Joint Staff Department is responsible for monitoring the telecommunications of foreign armies and producing finished intelligence based on the military information collected.

The communications stations established by the Third Department of the Joint Staff Headquarters are not subject to the jurisdiction of the provincial military district and the major theater command of where they are based. The communications stations are entirely the agencies of the Third Department of the Joint Staff Headquarters which have no affiliations to the provincial military district and the military region of where they are based. The personnel composition, budgets, and establishment of these communications stations are entirely under the jurisdiction of the Third Department of the General PLA General Staff Headquarters, and are not related at all with local troops.

China maintains the most extensive SIGINT network of all the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. As of the late 1990s, SIGINT systems included several dozen ground stations, half a dozen ships, truck-mounted systems, and airborne systems. Third Department headquarters is in the vicinity of the GSD First Department (Operations Department), AMS, and NDU complex in the hills northwest of the Summer Palace. As of the late 1990s, the Third Department was allegedly manned by approximately 20,000 personnel, with most of their linguists trained at the Luoyang Institute of Foreign Languages.

Ever since the 1950s, the Second and Third Departments of the Joint Staff Headquarters have established a number of institutions of secondary and higher learning for bringing up "special talents." The PLA Foreign Language Institute at Luoyang comes under the Third Department of the Joint Staff Department and is responsible for training foreign language officers for the monitoring of foreign military intelligence. The institute was formed from the PLA "793" Foreign Language Institute, which moved from Zhangjiakou after the Cultural Revolution and split into two institutions at Luoyang and Nanjing.

Though the distribution order they received upon graduation indicated the "Joint Staff Headquarters", many of the graduates of these schools found themselves being sent to all parts of the country, including remote and uninhabited backward mountain areas. The reason is that the monitoring and control stations under the Third Department of the PLA General Staff Headquarters are scattered in every corner of the country.

The communications stations located in the Shenzhen base of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison started their work long ago. In normal times, these two communications stations report directly to the Central Military Commission and the Joint Staff Headquarters. Units responsible for co-ordination are the communications stations established in the garrison provinces of the military regions by the Third Department of the PLA General Staff Headquarters.

By taking direct command of military communications stations based in all parts of the country, the CCP Central Military Commission and the Joint Staff Headquarters can not only ensure a successful interception of enemy radio communications, but can also make sure that none of the wire or wireless communications and contacts among major military regions can escape the detection of these communications stations, thus effectively attaining the goal of imposing a direct supervision and control over all the theater commands, all provincial military districts, and all group armies.

Monitoring stations Edit

China's main SIGINT effort is in the Third Department of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, with additional capabilities, primarily domestic, in the Ministry of State Security (MSS). SIGINT stations, therefore, are scattered through the country, for domestic as well as international interception. Prof. Desmond Ball, of the Australian National University, described the largest stations as the main Technical Department SIGINT net control station on the northwest outskirts of Beijing, and the large complex near Lake Kinghathu in the extreme northeast corner of China.

As opposed to other major powers, China focuses its SIGINT activities on its region rather than the world. Ball wrote, in the eighties, that China had several dozen SIGINT stations aimed at the Soviet Union, Japan, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and India, as well as internally. Of the stations apparently targeting Russia, there are sites at Jilemutu and Jixi in the northeast, and at Erlian and Hami near the Mongolian border. Two Russian-facing sites in Xinjiang, at Qitai and Korla may be operated jointly with resources from the US CIA's Office of SIGINT Operations, probably focused on missile and space activity. Other stations aimed at South and Southeast Asia are on a net controlled by Chengdu, Sichuan. There is a large facility at Dayi, and, according to Ball, "numerous" small posts along the Indian border. Other significant facilities are located near Shenyang, near Jinan and in Nanjing and Shanghai. Additional stations are in the Fujian and Guangdong military districts opposite Taiwan.

On Hainan Island, near Vietnam, there is a naval SIGINT facility that monitors the South China sea, and a ground station targeting US and Russian satellites. China also has ship and aircraft platforms in this area, under the South Sea Fleet headquarters at Zhanjiang immediately north of the island. Targeting here seems to have an ELINT as well as COMINT flavor. There are also truck-mounted mobile ground systems, as well as ship, aircraft, and limited satellite capability. There are at least 10 intelligence-gathering auxiliary vessels.

As of the late nineties, the Chinese did not appear to be trying to monitor the United States Pacific Command to the same extent as does Russia. In future, this had depended, in part, on the status of Taiwan.

Fourth Department Edit

The Fourth Department (ECM and Radar) of the Joint Staff Headquarters Department has the electronic intelligence (ELINT) portfolio within the PLA's SIGINT apparatus. This department is responsible for electronic countermeasures, requiring them to collect and maintain data bases on electronic signals. 25 ELINT receivers are the responsibility of the Southwest Institute of Electronic Equipment (SWIEE). Among the wide range of SWIEE ELINT products is a new KZ900 airborne ELINT pod. The GSD 54th Research Institute supports the ECM Department in development of digital ELINT signal processors to analyse parameters of radar pulses.

Special forces Edit

China's special ground force is called PLASF (People's Liberation Army Special Operations Forces). Typical units include consist of highly trained soldiers, a team commander, assistant commander, sniper, spotter, machine-gun support, bomber, and a pair of assault groups. [55] China's counter terrorism unit members are drawn from the public security apparatus rather than the military. The name of such units change frequently. As of 2020, it is known as the Immediate Action Unit (IAU). [56]

China has reportedly developed a force capable of carrying out long-range airborne operations, long-range reconnaissance, and amphibious operations. Formed in China's Guangzhou military region and known by the nickname "South Blade", the force supposedly receives army, air force, and naval training, including flight training, and is equipped with "hundreds of high-tech devices", including global-positioning satellite systems. All force members officers are military staff college graduates, and 60 percent are said to have university degrees. Soldiers are reported to be cross-trained in various specialties, and training encompassing a wide range of operating environments. It is far from clear whether this unit is considered operational by the Chinese. It is also not clear how such a force would be employed. Among the missions stated missions include: "responding to contingencies in various regions" and "cooperating with other services in attacks on islands". According to the limited reporting, the organisation appears to be in a phase of testing and development and may constitute an experimental unit. While no size for the force has been revealed, there have been Chinese media claims that "over 4,000 soldiers of the force are all-weather and versatile fighters and parachutists who can fly airplanes and drive terrain vehicles and amphibious boats". [ citation needed ]

Other branches Edit

  • The Third Department and the Navy co-operate on shipborne intelligence collection platforms.
  • PLAAF Sixth Research Institute: Air Force SIGINT collection is managed by the PLAAF Sixth Research Institute in Beijing.

According to the United States Defense Department, China is developing kinetic-energy weapons, high-powered lasers, high-powered microwave weapons, particle-beam weapons, and electromagnetic pulse weapons with its increase of military fundings. [57]

The PLA has said of reports that its modernisation is dependent on sales of advanced technology from American allies, senior leadership have stated "Some have politicized China's normal commercial cooperation with foreign countries, damaging our reputation." These contributions include advanced European diesel engines for Chinese warships, military helicopter designs from Eurocopter, French anti-submarine sonars and helicopters, [58] Australian technology for the Houbei class missile boat, [59] and Israeli supplied American missile, laser and aircraft technology. [60]

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's data, China became the world's third largest exporter of major arms in 2010–14, an increase of 143 percent from the period 2005–2009. [61] SIPRI also calculated that China surpassed Russia to become the world's second largest arms exporter by 2020. [62] China's share of global arms exports hence increased from 3 to 5 percent. China supplied major arms to 35 states in 2010–14. A significant percentage (just over 68 percent) of Chinese exports went to three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. China also exported major arms to 18 African states. Examples of China's increasing global presence as an arms supplier in 2010–14 included deals with Venezuela for armoured vehicles and transport and trainer aircraft, with Algeria for three frigates, with Indonesia for the supply of hundreds of anti-ship missiles and with Nigeria for the supply of a number of unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Following rapid advances in its arms industry, China has become less dependent on arms imports, which decreased by 42 percent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. Russia accounted for 61 percent of Chinese arms imports, followed by France with 16 percent and Ukraine with 13 per cent. Helicopters formed a major part of Russian and French deliveries, with the French designs produced under licence in China. Over the years, China has struggled to design and produce effective engines for combat and transport vehicles. It continued to import large numbers of engines from Russia and Ukraine in 2010–14 for indigenously designed combat, advanced trainer and transport aircraft, and for naval ships. It also produced British-, French- and German-designed engines for combat aircraft, naval ships and armoured vehicles, mostly as part of agreements that have been in place for decades. [63]

Cyberwarfare Edit

There is a belief in the Western military doctrines that the PLA have already begun engaging countries using cyber-warfare. [64] [65] There has been a significant increase in the number of presumed Chinese military initiated cyber events from 1999 to the present day. [66]

Cyberwarfare has gained recognition as a valuable technique because it is an asymmetric technique that is a part of Chinese Information Operations. As is written by two PLAGF Colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui in the book 'Unrestricted Warfare', "Methods that are not characterised by the use of the force of arms, nor by the use of military power, nor even by the presence of casualties and bloodshed, are just as likely to facilitate the successful realisation of the war's goals, if not more so. [67]

While China has long been suspected of cyber spying, on 24 May 2011 the PLA announced the existence of having 'cyber capabilities'. [68]

In February 2013, the media named "Comment Crew" as a hacker military faction for China's People's Liberation Army. [69] In May 2014, a Federal Grand Jury in the United States indicted five Unit 61398 officers on criminal charges related to cyber attacks on private companies based in the United States after alleged investigations by the FBI who exposed their identities in collaboration with US intelligence agencies such as the CIA. [70] [71]

In February 2020, the United States government indicted members of China's People's Liberation Army for the 2017 Equifax data breach, which involved hacking into Equifax and plundering sensitive data as part of a massive heist that also included stealing trade secrets, though the Chinese Communist Party denied these claims. [72] [73]

Nuclear capabilities Edit

In 1955, China decided to proceed with a nuclear weapons program. The decision was made after the United States threatened the use of nuclear weapons against China should it take action against Quemoy and Matsu, coupled with the lack of interest of the Soviet Union for using its nuclear weapons in defence of China.

After their first nuclear test (China claims minimal Soviet assistance before 1960) on 16 October 1964, China was the first state to pledge no-first-use of nuclear weapons. On 1 July 1966, the Second Artillery Corps, as named by Premier Zhou Enlai, was formed. In 1967, China tested a fully functional hydrogen bomb, only 32 months after China had made its first fission device. China thus produced the shortest fission-to-fusion development known in history.

China became a major international arms exporter during the 1980s. Beijing joined the Middle East arms control talks, which began in July 1991 to establish global guidelines for conventional arms transfers, and later announced that it would no longer participate because of the US decision to sell 150 F-16A/B aircraft to Taiwan on 2 September 1992.

It joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1984 and pledged to abstain from further atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in 1986. China acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1992 and supported its indefinite and unconditional extension in 1995. Nuclear weapons tests by China ceased in 1996, when it signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and agreed to seek an international ban on the production of fissile nuclear weapons material.

In 1996, China committed to provide assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. China attended the May 1997 meeting of the NPT Exporters (Zangger) Committee as an observer and became a full member in October 1997. The Zangger Committee is a group which meets to list items that should be subject to IAEA inspections if exported by countries, which have, as China has, signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In September 1997, China issued detailed nuclear export control regulations. China began implementing regulations establishing controls over nuclear-related dual-use items in 1998. China also has decided not to engage in new nuclear co-operation with Iran (even under safeguards), and will complete existing co-operation, which is not of proliferation concern, within a relatively short period. Based on significant, tangible progress with China on nuclear nonproliferation, President Clinton in 1998 took steps to bring into force the 1985 US–China Agreement on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation.

Beijing has deployed a modest ballistic missile force, including land and sea-based intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It was estimated in 2007 that China has about 100–160 liquid fuelled ICBMs capable of striking the United States with approximately 100–150 IRBMs able to strike Russia or Eastern Europe, as well as several hundred tactical SRBMs with ranges between 300 and 600 km. [74] Currently, the Chinese nuclear stockpile is estimated to be between 50 and 75 land and sea based ICBMs. [75]

China's nuclear program follows a doctrine of minimal deterrence, which involves having the minimum force needed to deter an aggressor from launching a first strike. The current efforts of China appear to be aimed at maintaining a survivable nuclear force by, for example, using solid-fuelled ICBMs in silos rather than liquid-fuelled missiles. China's 2006 published deterrence policy states that they will "uphold the principles of counterattack in self-defense and limited development of nuclear weapons", but "has never entered, and will never enter into a nuclear arms race with any country". It goes on to describe that China will never undertake a first strike, or use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state or zone. [74] US strategists, however, suggest that the Chinese position may be ambiguous, and nuclear weapons may be used both to deter conventional strikes/invasions on the Chinese mainland, or as an international political tool – limiting the extent to which other nations can coerce China politically, an inherent, often inadvertent phenomenon in international relations as regards any state with nuclear capabilities. [76]

Space Edit

The PLA has deployed a number of space-based systems for military purposes, including the imagery intelligence satellite systems like the ZiYan series, [77] and the militarily designated JianBing series, synthetic aperture satellites (SAR) such as JianBing-5, BeiDou satellite navigation network, and secured communication satellites with FENGHUO-1. [78]

The PLA is responsible for the Chinese space program. To date, all the participants have been selected from members of the PLA Air Force. China became the third country in the world to have sent a man into space by its own means with the flight of Yang Liwei aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft on 15 October 2003 and the flight of Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng aboard Shenzhou 6 on 12 October 2005 and Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming, and Jing Haipeng aboard Shenzhou 7 on 25 September 2008.

The PLA started the development of an anti-ballistic and anti-satellite system in the 1960s, code named Project 640, including ground-based lasers and anti-satellite missiles. On 11 January 2007, China conducted a successful test of an anti-satellite missile, with an SC-19 class KKV. [79] Its anti ballistic missile test was also successful.

The PLA has tested two types of hypersonic space vehicles, the Shenglong Spaceplane and a new one built by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation. Only a few pictures have appeared since it was revealed in late 2007. Earlier, images of the High-enthalpy Shock Waves Laboratory wind tunnel of the CAS Key Laboratory of high-temperature gas dynamics (LHD) were published in the Chinese media. Tests with speeds up to Mach 20 were reached around 2001. [80] [81]

Official budget
(billions of US$ )
March 2000 14.6 [82]
March 2001 17.0 [82]
March 2002 20.0 [82]
March 2003 22.0 [82]
March 2004 24.6 [82]
March 2005 29.9 [82]
March 2006 35.0 [82]
March 2007 44.9 [83]
March 2008 58.8 [84]
March 2009 70.0 [85]
March 2010 76.5 [86]
March 2011 90.2 [86]
March 2012 103.1 [86]
March 2013 116.2 [86]
March 2014 131.2 [86]
March 2015 142.4 [86]
March 2016 143.7 [86]
March 2017 151.4 [86]
March 2018 165.5 [87]
March 2019 177.6 [88]
May 2020 183.5 [89]
March 2021 209.4 [3]

Military spending for the People's Liberation Army has grown about 10 percent annually over the last 15 years. [90] The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, estimated China's military expenditure for 2013 to US$188.5bn. [91] China's military budget for 2014 according to IHS Jane's, a defence industry consulting and analysis company, will be US$148bn, [92] which is the second largest in the world. The United States military budget for 2014 in comparison, is US$574.9bn, [93] which is down from a high of US$664.3bn in 2012. According to SIPRI, China became the world's third largest exporter of major arms in 2010–2014, an increase of 143 per cent from the period 2005–2009. China supplied major arms to 35 states in 2010–2014. A significant percentage (just over 68 per cent) of Chinese exports went to three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. China also exported major arms to 18 African states. Examples of China's increasing global presence as an arms supplier in 2010–2014 included deals with Venezuela for armoured vehicles and transport and trainer aircraft, with Algeria for three frigates, with Indonesia for the supply of hundreds of anti-ship missiles and with Nigeria for the supply of a number of unmanned combat aerial vehicles. Following rapid advances in its domestic arms industry, China has become less dependent on arms imports, which decreased by 42 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–2014. [63] China's rise in military spending come at a time when there are tensions along the South China Sea with territorial disputes involving the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan, as well as escalating tensions between China and Japan involving the disputed Diaoyu (Chinese spelling) and Senkaku (Japanese spelling) islands. Former-United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has urged China to be more transparent about its military capabilities and intentions. [94] [95] The years 2018 and 2019 both saw significant budget increases as well. China announced 2018's budget as 1.11 trillion yuan (US$165.5bn), an 8.1% increase on 2017, and 2019's budget as 1.19 trillion yuan (US$177.61bn), an increase of 7.5 per cent on 2018. [96] [97]

Budget figures are published on the website of the State Council via a document named 'Central and Local Budgets' followed by the preceding year of the publication.

Historical Edit

Until the mid-1990s the PLA had extensive commercial enterprise holdings in non-military areas, particularly real estate. Almost all of these holdings were supposedly spun off in the mid-1990s. In most cases, the management of the companies remained unchanged, with the PLA officers running the companies simply retiring from the PLA to run the newly formed private holding companies. [98]

The history of PLA involvement in commercial enterprises began in the 1950s and 1960s. Because of the socialist state-owned system and from a desire for military self-sufficiency, the PLA created a network of enterprises such as farms, guest houses, and factories intended to financially support its own needs. One unintended side effect of the Deng-era economic reforms was that many of these enterprises became very profitable. For example, a military guest house intended for soldier recreation could be easily converted into a profitable hotel for civilian use. There were two main factors which increased PLA commercial involvement in the 1990s. One was that running profitable companies decreased the need for the state to fund the military from the government budget. The second was that in an environment where legal rules were unclear and political connections were important, PLA influence was very useful. [ citation needed ]

By the early 1990s party officials and high military officials were becoming increasingly alarmed at the military's commercial involvement for a number of reasons. The military's involvement in commerce was seen to adversely affect military readiness and spread corruption. Further, there was great concern that having an independent source of funding would lead to decreased loyalty to the party. The result of this was an effort to spin off the PLA's commercial enterprises into private companies managed by former PLA officers, and to reform military procurement from a system in which the PLA directly controls its sources of supply to a contracting system more akin to those of Western countries. The separation of the PLA from its commercial interests was largely complete by the year 2000. It was met with very little resistance, as the spinoff was arranged in such a way that few lost out. [98]

The military anthem of the PLA is the Military Anthem of the People's Liberation Army (simplified Chinese: 中国人民解放军军歌 traditional Chinese: 中國人民解放軍軍歌 pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn Jūngē ) (Chinese People's Liberation Army Song). The Central Military Commission (CMC) adopted the song as the official anthem on 25 July 1988. The lyrics of the anthem were written by composer Gong Mu (real name: Zhang Yongnian Chinese: 张永年) and the music was composed by Korea born Chinese composer Zheng Lücheng.

The PLA's insignia consists of a roundel with a red star bearing the two Chinese characters "八一"(literally "eight-one"), referring to the Nanchang uprising (A pivotal moment in Chinese history in which the Chinese Communist Party decided to take up armed struggle against the Nationalist Kuomintang party in response to the Shanghai massacre ordered by nationalist generalissimo and KMT party leader and founding father of Taiwan Chiang Kai Shek) which began on 1 August 1927 (The first day of the eighth month). The inclusion of the two characters "八一" (Eight-One) being symbolic of the party's revolutionary history carrying strong emotional connotations of the political power which it shed blood to obtain.

List of Medal of Honor recipients for the Battle of Iwo Jima

The Battle of Iwo Jima took place in February and March 1945 during World War II. Some of the fiercest fighting of the war happened during this battle. The American invasion was called Operation Detachment. It was charged with capturing the airfields on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.

The Imperial Japanese Army positions on the island were heavily fortified. There were vast bunkers with hidden artillery. It had 18 kilometers (11 mi) of tunnels. The battle was the first American attack on the Japanese Home Islands. The Imperial soldiers defended their positions tenaciously. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers present at the beginning of the battle, over 20,000 were killed. Only 216 were taken prisoner.

The battle lasted 2 months. After the battle 27 U.S. military personnel received the Medal of Honor for their actions. Of the 27 medals presented, 22 were presented to Marines. Five were presented to United States Navy sailors. A full 30% of the 82 Medals of Honor presented to Marines in World War II were from this battle. [1]

The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War. It is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented after the recipient is killed (posthumously). [2]

This with the indicates that the Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously

"The Charbor Chronicles"

Once again, it should be reiterated, that this does not pretend to be a very extensive history of what happened on this day (nor is it the most original - the links can be found down below). If you know something that I am missing, by all means, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and let me know!

Mar 8, 1917: February Revolution begins

In Russia, the February Revolution (known as such because of Russia's use of the Julian calendar) begins when riots and strikes over the scarcity of food erupt in Petrograd. One week later, centuries of czarist rule in Russia ended with the abdication of Nicholas II, and Russia took a dramatic step closer toward communist revolution.

By 1917, most Russians had lost faith in the leadership ability of the czarist regime. Government corruption was rampant, the Russian economy remained backward, and Nicholas repeatedly dissolved the Duma, the Russian parliament established after the Revolution of 1905, when it opposed his will. However, the immediate cause of the February Revolution--the first phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917--was Russia's disastrous involvement in World War I. Militarily, imperial Russia was no match for industrialized Germany, and Russian casualties were greater than those sustained by any nation in any previous war. Meanwhile, the economy was hopelessly disrupted by the costly war effort, and moderates joined Russian radical elements in calling for the overthrow of the czar.

On March 8, 1917, demonstrators clamoring for bread took to the streets in the Russian capital of Petrograd (now known as St. Petersburg). Supported by 90,000 men and women on strike, the protesters clashed with police but refused to leave the streets. On March 10, the strike spread among all of Petrograd's workers, and irate mobs of workers destroyed police stations. Several factories elected deputies to the Petrograd Soviet, or "council," of workers' committees, following the model devised during the Revolution of 1905.

On March 11, the troops of the Petrograd army garrison were called out to quell the uprising. In some encounters, regiments opened fire, killing demonstrators, but the protesters kept to the streets, and the troops began to waver. That day, Nicholas again dissolved the Duma. On March 12, the revolution triumphed when regiment after regiment of the Petrograd garrison defected to the cause of the demonstrators. The soldiers, some 150,000 men, subsequently formed committees that elected deputies to the Petrograd Soviet.

The imperial government was forced to resign, and the Duma formed a provisional government that peacefully vied with the Petrograd Soviet for control of the revolution. On March 14, the Petrograd Soviet issued "Order No. 1," which instructed Russian soldiers and sailors to obey only those orders that did not conflict with the directives of the Soviet. The next day, March 15, Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Michael, whose refusal of the crown brought an end to the czarist autocracy. The new provincial government, tolerated by the Petrograd Soviet, hoped to salvage the Russian war effort while ending the food shortage and many other domestic crises. It would prove a daunting task. Meanwhile, Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik revolutionary party, left his exile in Switzerland and crossed German enemy lines to return home and take control of the Russian Revolution.

Mar 8, 1983: Reagan refers to U.S.S.R. as "evil empire" again

Speaking to a convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Florida on this day in 1983, President Ronald Reagan publicly refers to the Soviet Union as an evil empire for the second time in his career. He had first used the phrase in a 1982 speech at the British House of Commons. Some considered Reagan's use of the Star Wars film-inspired terminology to be brilliant democratic rhetoric. Others, including many within the international diplomatic community, denounced it as irresponsible bombast.

Reagan's aggressive stance toward the Soviet Union became known as the Reagan Doctrine. He warned against what he and his supporters saw as the dangerous trend of tolerating the Soviets' build-up of nuclear weapons and attempts to infiltrate Third World countries in order to spread communism. Advocating a peace through strength policy, Reagan declared that the Soviets must be made to understand we will never compromise our principles and standards [nor] ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire. To do so would mean abandoning the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Reagan proposed a policy that went beyond the Truman Doctrine of containment, urging active intervention. He vowed to increase U.S. military spending and to use force if necessary to roll back communist expansion in Third World nations. His administration provided military aid to Nicaraguan groups fighting the leftist Sandinista government and gave material support to the Afghan mujahedeen in their ongoing war against Soviets. At the same time, he reassured Americans that he would pursue an understanding with totalitarian powers and cited the United States' effort to limit missile development as a step toward peace.

Reagan's doctrine came at the same time as a surge in international and domestic protests against the U.S.-Soviet arms race. His opponents blamed the administration for causing the largest increase in American military spending since the beginning of the Cold War, a policy that swelled the nation's budget deficit.

The Soviet economy ultimately collapsed in the late 1980s, ending decades of communist rule in Russia and Eastern Europe. Americans disagreed as to the cause: while economists and Reagan's critics claimed the Soviet empire had buckled under the weight of its own bloated defense spending and a protracted war in Afghanistan, Reagan and his supporters credited his hard-line anti-communist policies for defeating Soviet communism.

Mar 8, 1982: United States accuses Soviets of using poison gas

The United States government issues a public statement accusing the Soviet Union of using poison gas and chemical weapons in its war against rebel forces in Afghanistan. The accusation was part of the continuing U.S. criticism of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Since sending troops into Afghanistan in 1979 in an attempt to prop up a pro-Soviet communist government, the Soviet Union had been on the receiving end of an unceasing string of criticism and diplomatic attacks from the United States government. First the Carter administration, and then the Reagan administration, condemned the Soviets for their intervention in a sovereign nation. Because of the issue, arms control talks had been tabled, the United States had boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and diplomatic tension between America and Russia reached alarming proportions.

Reports that the Soviets were using poison gas and chemical weapons in Afghanistan only intensified the heightened tensions. The U.S. government's official statement charged that over 3,000 Afghans had been killed by weapons, including "irritants, incapacitants, nerve agents, phosgene oxime and perhaps mycotoxins, mustard, lewisite and toxic smoke." Evidence to support these charges was largely anecdotal and a number of U.S. scientists had serious doubts about the data put forward by the Reagan administration. Some critics charged that the accusations were a smokescreen behind which the United States could go forward with further development and stockpiling of its own chemical weapons arsenal.

The U.S. attack must have seemed mildly ironic to the Soviets, who had pilloried America for the use of defoliants and other chemical weapons during its war in Vietnam. By 1982, many Americans were referring to Afghanistan as "Russia's Vietnam."

Mar 8, 1669: Mount Etna erupts

On this day in 1669, Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily in modern-day Italy, begins rumbling. Multiple eruptions over the next few weeks killed more than 20,000 people and left thousands more homeless. Most of the victims could have saved themselves by fleeing, but stayed, in a vain attempt to save their city.

Mount Etna dominates the island of Sicily. Rising 11,000 feet above sea level in the northeast section of Sicily, it can be seen from just about every part of the 460-square-mile island. The geologic history of Mount Etna demonstrates that it has been periodically spewing ash and lava for thousands of years the first recorded eruption of the volcano was in 475 BCE. It is the most active volcano in Europe. In 1169, an earthquake just prior to an eruption killed 15,000 people on Sicily. Despite the dangers of living near an active volcano, the eruptions made the surrounding soil very fertile, so many small villages developed on the slopes of the mountain.

When Etna began to rumble and belch gas on March 8, the residents nearby ignored the warning signs of a larger eruption. Three days later, the volcano began spewing out noxious fumes in large quantities. Approximately 3,000 people living on the slopes of the mountain died from asphyxiation. Even worse, Etna was soon emitting tremendous amounts of ash and molten lava. The ash was sent out with such force that significant amounts came down in the southern part of mainland Italy, in some cases nearly 100 miles away. Lava also began pouring down the south side of the mountain heading toward the city of Catania, 18 miles to the south along the sea.

At the time, the city of Catania had about 20,000 residents most failed to flee the city immediately. Instead, Diego de Pappalardo, a resident of the city, led a team of 50 men to Mount Etna, where they attempted to divert the lava flow. Wearing cowhides soaked in water, the men bravely approached the lava with long iron rods, picks and shovels. They were able to hack open a hole in the hardened lava wall that had developed on the outside of the lava flow and much of the flow began to flow west out of the new hole. However, the residents of Paterno, a city lying southwest of Etna were monitoring these developments and quickly realized that this new flow direction could imperil their own city. They literally fought back the Catanians, while the lava breach hardened and filled again.

For several weeks, the lava pushed toward Catania and the sea. Still, the residents failed to evacuate the city. Apparently, they remained hopeful that the lava would stop or the city's ancient defensive walls would protect them. Neither was the case—the walls were quickly swallowed by the extremely hot lava and nearly 17,000 people in Catania died. Most of the city was destroyed. Catania was not the only city affected—the eruption wiped out 14 towns and villages and left about 27,000 people homeless.

Following this disaster, it was decreed that interference with the natural flow of lava was prohibited in Italy, a regulation that remained in effect hundreds of years later.

Mar 8, 1950: VW bus, icon of counterculture movement, goes into production

Volkswagen, maker of the Beetle automobile, expands its product offerings to include a microbus, which goes into production on this day in 1950. Known officially as the Volkswagen Type 2 (the Beetle was the Type 1) or the Transporter, the bus was a favorite mode of transportation for hippies in the U.S. during the 1960s and became an icon of the American counterculture movement.

The VW bus was reportedly the brainchild of Dutch businessman Ben Pon, an importer of Beetles to the Netherlands, who saw a market for a small bus and in 1947 sketched out his concept. Volkswagen engineers further developed the idea and in March 1950, the vehicle, with its boxy, utilitarian shape and rear engine, went into production. The bus eventually collected a number of nicknames, including the "Combi" (for combined-use vehicle) and the "Splittie" (for its split windshield) in Germany it was known as the "Bulli." In the U.S., it was referred to by some as a hippie van or bus because it was used to transport groups of young people and their camping gear and other supplies to concerts and anti-war rallies. Some owners painted colorful murals on their buses and replaced the VW logo on the front with a peace symbol. According to "Bug" by Phil Patton, when Grateful Dead musician Jerry Garcia died in 1995, Volkswagen ran an ad featuring a drawing of the front of a bus with a tear streaming down it.

The bus was only the second product offering for Volkswagen, a company whose history dates back to the 1930s Germany. In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and announced he wanted to build new roads and affordable cars for the German people. At that time, Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951) was already working on creating a small car for the masses. Hitler and Porsche later met and the engineer was charged with designing the inexpensive, mass-produced Volkswagen, or "people's car." In 1938, work began on the Volkswagen factory, located in present-day Wolfsburg, Germany however, full-scale vehicle production didn't begin until after World War II.

In the 1950s, the Volkswagen arrived in the U.S., where the initial reception was tepid, due in part to the car's historic Nazi connection as well as its small size and unusual rounded shape (which later led to it being dubbed the "Beetle"). In 1959, the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a groundbreaking campaign that promoted the car's diminutive size as a distinct advantage to consumers, and over the next several years VW became the top-selling auto import in the U.S. In 1972, the VW Beetle passed the iconic Ford Model T as the world's best-selling car, with over 15 million vehicles produced.

Here's a more detailed look at events that transpired on this date throughout history:

Today in World War II History—March 8, 1940 & 1945

US Navy Cdr. Thomas Gaylord administering oath to nurses commissioned in New York, 8 Mar 1945 Phyllis Mae Daley, US Navy’s first African-American nurse, second from right. (US National Archives: 80-G-4836)

80 Years Ago—March 8, 1940: Off the Dominican Republic, British light cruiser Dunedin and Canadian destroyer Assiniboine capture German freighter Hannover, violating Pan-American Neutrality Hannover will become the first British escort carrier, HMS Audacity.

75 Years Ago—Mar. 8, 1945: German commandos from the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands raid Granville, Normandy at night and free 55 German POWs and capture 30 Americans.

Nazis kill 262 Dutch prisoners & civilians in reprisal for March 6 resistance attack at Woeste Hoeve.

March 9, 1945: Burning the Heart Out of the Enemy

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1945: In the single deadliest air raid of World War II, 330 American B-29s rain incendiary bombs on Tokyo, touching off a firestorm that kills upwards of 100,000 people, burns a quarter of the city to the ground, and leaves a million homeless.

The raid also represented a tactical shift, as the Americans switched from high-altitude precision bombing to low-altitude incendiary raids.

Tokyo was the first of five incendiary raids launched in quick succession against the largest Japanese cities. Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe were also targeted — with Nagoya getting hit twice within a week. By the end of the war, more than 60 Japanese cities had been laid waste by firebombing.

The Tokyo raid, codenamed Operation Meetinghouse, began an aerial onslaught so effective that the American air command concluded by July 1945 that no viable targets remained on the Japanese mainland.

But if the American objective was to shorten the war by demoralizing the Japanese population and breaking its will to resist, it didn't work. What had proven true in Germany proved equally true here: Morale was shaken by bombing, but once the shock passed, the war work went on.

The Americans began looking to incendiaries as their stockpiles of those weapons increased, and because the typically cloudy weather conditions that prevailed over Japan made precision bombing difficult at best.

Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, commander of the 21st Bomber Command, also argued that incendiary bombing would be particularly effective, because Japanese cities contained a lot of tightly packed, wooden structures that would burn easily when set alight.

The B-29 bombers for the Tokyo raid were stripped of their defensive weapons and packed with various incendiary explosives, including white phosphorus and napalm, a new gasoline-based, fuel-gel mixture developed at Harvard University.

As opposed to the high-altitude precision bombing, which the Allies practiced with only mixed success over both Germany and Japan, incendiary raids were carried out at low altitudes between 5,000 and 9,000 feet. The attackers were helped by the fact that Japanese air defenses were almost nonexistent by that point in the war. In fact, only 14 B-29s were lost in the March 9–10 Tokyo raid.

As was done in Europe, pathfinder planes flying ahead of the bombers marked the target with a flaming X, guiding the attackers in. Tokyo was hit over a three-hour period by three bomber streams that dropped roughly 2,000 tons of incendiaries near the docklands and in the industrial heart of the Japanese capital.

Tokyo immediately burst into flames. The combination of incendiaries, the way they were dropped, windy weather conditions and lack of coordinated firefighting on the ground resulted in a firestorm similar to what occurred two years previously in Hamburg, and only a month before in Dresden. Temperatures on the ground in Tokyo reached 1,800 degrees in some places.

The human carnage was appalling. Bomber crews coming in near the tail end of the raid reported smelling the stench of charred human flesh as they passed over the burning capital.

Sixty-three percent of Tokyo's commercial area, and 18 percent of its industry, was destroyed. An estimated 267,000 buildings burned to the ground.

The firebombing campaign, coupled with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are believed to have killed more than 1 million Japanese civilians between March and August of 1945.

Photo: B-29 Superfortresses wing by snow-covered Mount Fuji. (Bettmann/Corbis)