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PLA moves to reshuffle grassroots officers

2015-01-12 08:46 Global Times Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Swapping political and military personnel meant to strengthen readiness

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has ordered grassroots military commanders and political instructors to switch posts, a move aimed at further pushing forward military reform and increasing combat capacity, according to analysts.

The plan is expected to help grassroots officers to gain professional military knowledge while enhancing their capacity to handle political and ideological work, said a circular issued by the PLA General Political Department.

The circular was endorsed by President Xi Jinping, also chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Post exchanges will be restricted to two officers within the same unit, instead of crossing military area commands or branches of the armed services, Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel, told the Global Times.

Certain political instructors belittle the importance of military knowledge as they believe that "political influence has much more say than military expertise," Yue said, adding that with an increasingly professional military, the exchanges can better prepare political chiefs for more complicated military missions.

Xi stressed the Communist Party of China's absolute control over the military at a conference held in October 2014, in Gutian, a former revolutionary base in Fujian Province.

"The [exchange] program will also encourage officers in charge of military and political work to supervise each other … and create a corruption-free leadership," Luo Yuan, a PLA major general, told the Global Times.

Luo explained that frequent exchanges are likely to prevent the formation of cliques and inflexible work styles. He reminded that there still should be a focus on cultivating both kinds of capabilities. "We should make the best use of [both]."

The PLA General Political Department is mulling making this a routine practice in the armed forces and a "new normal" in training grassroots offices, said the circular.

"It is also a part of the deepening reform of the military system, after the Third Plenary Session [of the 18th CPC Central Committee] decided to reduce non-combat institutions and personnel," said Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator.

A similar scheme was implemented among military and political chiefs at the battalion and company levels in 2014.

The PLA Daily said on Sunday the measure is a response to Xi's drive to cultivate improved military competency and political awareness among military officers at the grassroots level.

A number of high-level military officials have exchanged posts recently, involving over 30 officials in seven military regions, among them Lieutenant General Zhang Shibo, the commander of the Beijing Military Region, who exchanged posts with Song Puxuan, the president of the PLA National Defense University.

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