People's Liberation Army Special Operations Forces
The People's Liberation Army special operations forces (simplified Chinese: 中国人民解放军特种部队; traditional Chinese: 中國人民解放軍特種部隊; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiěfàngjūn tèzhǒng bùduì) are the special forces of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Although the size of the Special Operations Forces is classified, it is estimated to number 7,000 ~ 14,000 troops. It specializes in rapid-response combat in a limited regional war under high-tech conditions, with commando operations, counter-terrorism, and intelligence gathering. The building up of China’s special forces represents a shift in the operational thinking, from an army-dominated force structure, to integrated joint operations, with a highly flexible elite force.
The P.L.A. first became interested in modern special warfare in the mid-1980s when it was shifting from the "people's war" to "fighting a local war under hi-tech conditions." The P.L.A. planners believed that the next war would be a short, fast-pace conflict on the periphery rather than a total war on Chinese territories, and conventional infantry-orientated ground forces in their mass numbers could no longer meet the requirements.
On 23 December 2008, their first publicly known mission was to accompany three Chinese warships in protecting and escorting commercial ships against the Somali pirates, in cooperation with other nations as part of a UN mandate.
Special Operations Forces Units
- Beijing Military Region-"Oriental Sword" belongs to the Beijing Military Region. All 3,000 soldiers in the force complete all types of operations and are regarded as the royal arm of the country.
- Guangzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit - "South Blade" or "South China Sword" established in 1988 as the P.L.A’s first special reconnaissance group, and was later expanded in 2000 to become the first PLA special operations unit to be capable of air-, sea-, and land-operations similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs. Basic training for this unit include cross-country running, climbing, swimming and shooting. The soldiers must also be familiar with operating 15 advanced technologies including GPS navigation, night vision, and photo reconnaissance.
- Chengdu Military Region Special Forces Unit – “Falcon”. Established in 1992, this unit is specialized in target locating and indicating, airborne insertion, sabotage and offensive strike, and emergency evacuation. The unit was also used by Chengdu MR to experiment with various new advanced concept equipment and tactics, including the digitized army soldier system and high-mobility land weapon platforms.
- Beijing Military Region Special Forces Unit - "Arrow". Established in the early 1990s, this unit is equipped with various “high-tech” equipment including unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle (U.A.R.V), individual explosion devices and handheld laser dazzling weapons. Every soldier from this unit must be able to run five kilometers bearing heavy equipment in under 25 minutes, complete a 400-meter obstacle course in under one minute and 45 seconds, throw several hundred grenades over at least 50 meters each time, and perform 100 push-ups in a minute.
- Shenyang Military Region Special Forces Unit - "Siberian Tiger" is capable of completing missions on the ground and in the air and water, as well as surviving in the wilderness alone or in small groups. The unit is said to place special focus on survival skills, often breaking protocols by increasing this training in this area by an additional two-thirds, forcing soldiers to spend three to four months in difficult environments such as forests, mountains, deserts and grasslands with no man-made shelter or food. Soldiers in the squad are trained across multiple transport vehicles for roads, railroads, waterways and in the air, and have reportedly completed parachute landings more than 5,000 times and logged scuba diving training at more than 1,000 hours.
- Nanjing Military Region Special Forces Unit - Nickname “Flying Dragon” is the special land force of east China's Nanjing Military Region.
- Nanjing Military Region Special Forces Unit - “Oscar”
- Lanzhou Military Region Special Forces Unit - "Night Tiger" has a long and illustrious history with its origins dating back to World War II. It is home of China's first counter-terrorism unit, established in 2000.
- Jinan Military Region Special Forces Unit - "Eagle" Soldiers are said to focus on upper body strength training to enhance cardiovascular endurance, including being able to run at least 3,300 meters in under 12 minutes. They also reportedly engage in hand-to-hand combat training as well as the traditional Chinese health and martial arts practice of Qigong. Soldiers of the Eagle special force can complete sea-air-land operations also similar to the U.S. Navy S.E.A.Ls
- Hong Kong Special Duties Unit - "5 minute Response Unit"
- Macau Quick Reaction Platoon
- Leishen (Thundergod) Commando Airborne Forces is a crack special force for reconnaissance operations of the P.L.A's airborne troops, which is capable of performing the tasks of strategic deterrence, combat assault, task operations under IT-based conditions. They recently attended the "Golden Owl-2015" International Competition of Special Forces held in Kazakhstan, and won first place among participating teams of foreign countries. They also attended the Russia International Army Games in 2015 where they took first place in the "Airborne Platoon" competition. Ten teams from Kazakhstan, Belarus, China, Russia, Indonesia, and Singapore attended the competition.
- P.L.A. Navy's commando team “Sea Dragon” soldiers are equipped with black uniforms, this unit's first publicly known mission was to accompany three Chinese warships in protecting and escorting commercial ships against Somali pirates in December 2008, in cooperation with other nations as part of a UN mandate. Since then, the unit has participated in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Eden for over 300 days.
- Leopard is the name given to the crack troops of the Southwest China Falcon special force.
- 2009 international military competitions in Slovakia - 8 first places, 6 second places in 13 individual competition events.
- Third place in the 2010 Sniper World Cup and first place in the 2011 Sniper World Cup.
- Best overall performance at the fifth and sixth Warrior Competition organized by the Jordan Armed Forces at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre.
- Chinese Special Forces took 1st place at the 2013 5th International Warrior Competition organized by the Jordan Armed Forces at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre.
- Chinese Special Forces took 1st, 2nd, and 4th place at 2014 'Olympics' For Elite Warriors.
- Chinese Thor (Leishen) Commando Airborne troops attended the "Golden Owl-2015" International Competition of Special Forces held in Kazakhstan, and won first place among participating teams of foreign countries. They also attended the Russia International Army Games in 2015 where they took first place in the "Airborne Platoon" competition.
- China's Sky Sword Unit of the PAP placed 1st in the 9th edition of the 2017 Annual Warrior Competition in Amman. China's Falcon Commando Unit of the PAP placed third overall in the competition. 31 teams from 17 nations participated in the international competition.
- China's PAP Team 1 (Snow Leopards)placed 2nd in the 10th addition of the 2018 Annual Warrior Competition in Amman.
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