Other People's Wars: PLA Lessons from Foreign Conflicts

  • April 01, 2011
  • Mr Daniel Alderman, Mr Joe Narus

Key Insights: • The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has not fought in a major war since 1979, but has studied the lessons of modern foreign conflicts from throughout the world. In some cases, those lessons have resulted in observable changes to the PLA’s strategic, tactical, or operational posture. • Conversely, what lessons from foreign conflicts the PLA has chosen not to explore may be equally illuminating for contemporary PLA watchers as they seek to better understand PLA self-perceptions, intentions, and doctrine. Although it is more difficult to observe what potential lessons the PLA has ignored, the absence of study may provide important clues into how the PLA views its current and future roles. • This conference identified the need for further research on how the PLA as an organization goes from observing a lesson to implementing that lesson within its ranks. In only limited cases can a lesson observed by PLA leadership be conclusively linked to an adjustment made by the PLA.