Christopher Sharman, a former US assistant navy attache to Beijing and a student at National Defense University, discussed the five major steps China has taken to establish a global navy since 2004 in his new article written for the Washington-based National Interest magazine.
Between 2004 and 2006, the People's Liberation Army Navy kept itself within the region known as the First Island Chain in the Pacific, extending from Alaska to the Philippines, to avoid direct confrontation with the United States and its security partners. But the PLA Navy enhanced training in disciplines that enabled it to take steps toward conducting operations further from China's coast into the "blue water" of the open ocean, he wrote.
The PLA Navy then took its initial steps into the Western Pacific between 2007 and 2009, when it expanded its area of training operations into the Philippine Sea beyond the First Island Chain. Holding exercises in this region enhanced the PLA Navy's ability to operate in unfamiliar waters. At the same time, it also helped to develop the logistics and command and control systems necessary for operations further from home, Sharman said.
Next, the PLA Navy took steps to normalize its deployments in the Western Pacific between 2010 and 2012. Sharman said it increased the frequency, complexity and its confidence in executing blue-water operations in the region. While the exercises in the Philippine Sea between 2007 and 2009 appeared to be relatively one-dimensional with surface ship against surface ship, the exercises from 2010 through 2012 became multi-dimensional with the participation of aircraft, warships and submarines.
After that, the PLA Navy integrated land-based fixed wing aircraft into Philippine Sea exercises and executed the first Western Pacific exercise that involved all three naval fleets operating simultaneously between 2013 and 2014. Furthermore, PLA surface combat vessels were for the first time deployed to the Indian Ocean for counter-piracy operations around the Gulf of Aden, Sharman noted.
Sharman concluded by saying that the normalization of the PLA Navy's operations in the Western Pacific and the experience of counter-piracy missions has given China the requisite experience, confidence and proficiency to defend China through the operationalization of far seas defense capabilities. This will also allow China to eventually establish a navy with global power projection, he said.
*Notícia publicada a Want China Times. Una perspectiva concisa del procés d'aprenentatge que ha convertit la PLAN en una "Blue Water Navy".
|PLA warships take part in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean on April 3, 2014, another example of how PLA vessels are being deployed in different types of operations further from home. (Photo/CNS)|