Experts: The CCP’s military logistics supporting capability is surprisingly deficient

Hong Kong media South China Morning Post reported on July 20 that senior U.S. military analysts believe that the CCP’s military logistics supporting capability is surprisingly deficient and could become a weak point on the battlefield. The fighting capability of the Air Force can only be maintained for two weeks.

Joshua Arostegui, a senior analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense and other military experts, said that although the Chinese military has a large number of active officers and soldiers, the lack of logistics support means the army is fragile in actual combat.

On July 21, the Youtube channel of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based consulting organization, posted a discussion of U.S. experts at this center on July 19. In it, Arostegui said that the logistics support for the PLA’s operations sometimes seems insufficient and that there is no modern logistics support strategy. He questioned how long the Chinese military could last at the tactical level once war broke out.

Arostgui’s conclusion is based on recent Pentagon magazine articles targeting China and official CCTV footage. He analyzed and summed up the combat effectiveness of the CCP army, noting that the infrastructure behind the CCP army, from naval supply ships to aircraft maintenance aprons, was inadequate.

Information on Baidu shows that, in 2016, Xi Jinping significantly overhauled the military’s logistics system and established a joint logistics support force responsible for carrying out joint logistics support and support strategy and campaigns. This is a large unit at the sub-district level.

This force includes the Joint Logistics Support Base in Wuhan and five joint logistics support centers under its leadership in Wuxi, Guilin, Xining, Shenyang, and Zhengzhou. Its predecessor was mainly the Wuhan rear of the General Department of Logistics and the general logistics departments of major military regions.

Experts say this centralized logistics system has led to command posts in specific units losing direct command and causing bureaucratic delays.

Is the CCP military ready to switch roles from wartime to peacetime?

The authorities sent the army during the epidemic to carry out various tasks. The troops provided medical assistance and transport supplies and built hospitals, performing other functions in places where the epidemic was severe. This is the first time the Chinese military has been tested for its ability to perform tasks in peacetime. The results look good, according to Arostgui.

However, Arostgui and another expert, James Roger Sessions III, point out that participating in public health emergencies and responding to complex, transformative wars are very different tasks. They question whether the Chinese military is prepared to switch roles in combat and civilian missions.

Arostgui said that for other countries that want to deter China, the logistics support system is weak and can cause problems for China.

Poor logistical support: equipment delivery inefficienct and poor mobilization capacity

In addition to the above problems, the CCP’s military logistics support system has many transportation problems.

Sessions noted that Beijing intends to integrate unproven private logistics companies such as JD.com and S.F. Express into the wartime transportation system.

He explained that the PLA’s newest logistics system has shortcomings, especially its flexible decision-making ability to respond to field forces under changing conditions. This is reminiscent of Russia’s problems during its operation in Ukraine.

Regarding current operational processes, Sessions said that travel requests sometimes go through five or six levels of approval, leading to criticism from PLA logistics planners.

Lonnie Henley, a former East Asian defense intelligence officer at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and now an assistant professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Relations said he was “particularly skeptical” of the ability of the PLA Navy and Air Force to maintain a large-scale combat capability.

Henry believes that China’s transportation and equipment sectors are not sufficient to meet the expectation that allows brigade-level troops to undertake long-range operations.

“I personally suspect that the PLA Air Force can only sustain combat operations for about two weeks.” he said.

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