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 training 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 f rom t he 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.

This game is a microcosm of our promotion of teaching and educating people to accurately meet the needs of the army and the battlefield.

Source: “朱日和:我的“最后一课”(Zhurihe: My “Final Lesson”),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s
Liberation Army), 7 June 2022.

At the end of May, Zhurihe sharpened his sword in the battlefield, this group of cadets ushered in the graduation drill of their military academy career. A hot-blooded contest is about to take place, and their opponent is the famous “Blue Army Brigade”.

…. The two sides in the exercise are the simulation company where the students at the Army Armored Force College are located and the reinforced company composed of officers and soldiers of the “Blue Army Brigade”.

On the basis of conventional infantry-tank coordination, they can use artillery, helicopters and other supporting forces.

…During the exercise planning stage, Cai Xiaobin applied the knowledge he had learned for combat as much as possible, but he did not expect the “first battle” to usher in a defeat— The “sabotage raid warfare” carefully designed by him [to attack important targets in the enemy rear area] was turned into a “counter-sabotage raid” by Blue Force.

My plan was to coordinate the ground and aviation forces to attack important targets of the ‘enemy’ in order to delay the ‘enemy’ offensive action. Unexpectedly, the opponent’s attack speed far exceeded expectations…” Cai Xiaobin said angrily.”

Source: “国防大学牢固立起为战育人鲜明导向 – 课堂对接战场 教学紧贴实战(The National Defense University Firmly Establishes Clear Guidance for War Education – The Classroom Connecting to Battlefield teaching that Approaches Actual Combat),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 9 June 2022.

“This game is a microcosm of our promotion of teaching and educating people to accurately meet the needs of the armed forces and the battlefield.” The leaders of the university’s Education and Training Department stated that they resolutely implemented the spirit of the Central Military Commission’s Talent Work Conference, and paid close attention to changes in science and technology, changes in war, and opponents. The changes have reshaped and designed important shift courses such as strategic command and joint combat command, and concentrated on launching a batch of urgently needed textbooks to prepare for combat in war, firmly establishing a clear orientation for war education.

Source: “探索军事教育高质量发展之路 (Exploring the Road to High Quality Development of Military Education),” PLA Daily (official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army), 14 June 2022.

At present, we are deeply implementing the strategy of building a strong military with talents in the new era, promoting the comprehensive transformation and upgrading of military personnel’s competence, structure, development and management, and forging a high-quality army with both political integrity, ability, and professional new-type military personnel, we must unremittingly use Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, especially Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Army, to cast the soul and educate people. We should deepen reform, solve problems in reform, and solve contradictions with innovative development, we will take effective measures to promote the development of military education in the direction of high quality.

… Prioritize the development of education in military academies. Strengthening the military first strengthens schools, and college education plays a fundamental, leading and overall important role in the construction of the military.

It is necessary to carry forward the fine tradition of running schools and educating people in our military, aiming at the goal of building first-class military academies and cultivating first-class military talents, strengthening colleges and universities to cultivate talents and reserve talents, innovate theory and develop technology, lead the transformation of war training and test combat capabilities, etc.

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