PLA Combining Battlefield and Classroom Education To Develop Quality Officers

PLA National Defense University Seal.

PLA National Defense University Seal.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is engaged in a long-term effort to reform military education and training.  As the accompanying articles from the official PLA Daily newspaper demonstrate, it seeks to combine the classroom and the battlefield to cultivate talent, as well as improve faculty and courses.  As the first accompanying article discusses, the Army Armored Force College conducted a graduation exercise in May at the Zhurihe Combined Arms Tactical Training Center.  The exercise entailed a student unit confronting the Blue Force Brigade from the training center.  The combined arms training included armor, infantry, artillery, army aviation, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare and provided the graduates with a realistic combat experience they could not gain in the classroom.  Students were exposed to problems of coordination of arms and support during operations.  The exercise also employed unmanned combat equipment.  According to the article, students began the training relying on what they had learned in the classroom but quickly realized the need for flexibility and innovation when executing operations.  Instructors assessed that the exercise provided a valuable experience compared to just book learning. 

As the second and third articles demonstrate, the PLA’s National Defense University (NDU) is also bringing the battlefield to the classroom.  A recent wargame lasted a month with hundreds of officers, students, instructors, and researchers participating.  The game employed innovations in traditional combat methods and the use of new type operational forces.  Officers from the Central Military Commission, theater commands, and military units have also lectured at NDU to provide expert experience and broaden the students’ knowledge.  Additionally, NDU arranged over 40 lectures by outside experts since March to broaden and enhance courses.

Collectively, these articles highlight important aspects of the PLA’s professional military education reforms to integrate the battlefield and active duty units into the classroom to provide realistic operational experience for students.  This includes military universities and colleges conducting field training and simulations to provide combat-related education, as well as recruiting active duty officers to teach classes in an effort to develop operationally oriented officers.

Image Information:

Image: PLA National Defense University Seal
Source: Wikimedia