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Detailed Analysis of PLA's IJO by India's IDSA|
From the inputs available it appears that the PLA has made fair progress in the planning and conduct of IJO at brigade and divisional levels. However, certain key elements of successful conduct of a joint campaign require stitching up at the higher level. Greater clarity is required on key issues of centralised command; the change of command from the MR commander, who is in location, to a WZC commander who descends from outside the theatre of operations; the changeover of a peacetime MR HQs to a WZ HQs; and, the integration of various services at the War Zone level. The need for equality of all the services, a key ingredient of joint operations, does not appear to have been fully implemented. PLAAF and PLAN Commanders continue to remain at the Deputy level at the War Zone HQs and under the War Zone Commander, who is invariably from the ground forces. More importantly, there is little confirmation of integration of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets at the War Zone HQs level. ISR assets are the key to decision making at the War Zone level.
Future Challenges for the PLA
[A] The PLA is still in a preliminary joint training stage. It was only in October 2011 that a Maritime Joint Defence Combat drill was organised by the North China fleet of the Jinan Theatre. This drill was a culmination of the three years of experimental joint training task that was assigned to Jinan MAC by the CMC. Since 300 officers attended the drill and no troops participated, it would be reasonable to assume that the PLA is still grappling with the structures and doctrinal aspects of the conduct of IJO.12 The actual validation of this concept with troops will require time.
[B] There is no historical experience in joint campaigns in the PLA. This is a major barrier to `jointness`. Commanders are ignorant of the capabilities of other services and the technical specifications of equipment. While concerted attempts are being made to give exposure to Commanders at all levels in academies and schools of instruction, actual integration will still take time.13
[C] IJO calls for a high degree of information technology knowledge and technical skills of the staff at all levels. The entry level skills of the PLA are very low which has necessitated the PLA to embark on a talent search and training of special talented officers and NCOs who have IT skills. This project is underway and requires time for fructification.
[D] Interoperability in systems is vital in a joint service environment. Reliable and secure ship-shore, ship-air or air-shore communications and data links are yet to be verified.14