Mon, Sep 07, 2015 - Page 3 News List

PLA force ‘ominous’: study

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Chinese Special Operations Forces (SOF) are “particularly ominous for Taiwan” according to an analysis published by the Jamestown Foundation.

“SOF groups might target political and military leaders for capture or assassination, including important individuals not in the government,” it said.

Written by former senior US intelligence officer Kevin McCauley, the analysis claimed that a video showing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers assaulting a mock-up resembling the Presidential Office Building in Taipei “might be taken as further evidence of this mission.”

However, McCauley added that the video was more likely a psychological warfare ploy, “since the Taiwanese president would be transported by an armored unit to the underground national political-military compound center in a crisis.”

An analysis of the PLA’s special, combat and overseas operations showed that Chinese doctrine identified SOF as a key force multiplier in combat, as they were capable of conducting critical missions that other forces could not undertake, McCauley said.

“Special reconnaissance is their primary mission, however, direct action missions are important for striking key targets, affecting morale and disrupting enemy plans,” the analysis said, which drew much of its information from Chinese doctrinal texts.

Published as part of Jamestown’s China Brief, the analysis said that recent SOF training highlighted aerial insertions, including fast-roping and parachuting into water from helicopters.

“If a high-priority target is discovered, the group could attack the objective if possible or guide firepower strikes,” it said.

According to the analysis, Chinese SOF troops were trained for sabotage operations against key enemy command posts, precision strike systems, military air bases and ports, early warning sites, civilian transportation systems, power grids and other strategic targets — including political and military leadership.

Search and suppress missions target capturing political or military leaders to cause chaos, lower morale and obtain information, the analysis said.

“Targeted enemy leadership could include officials of political parties, mass organizations and religious groups,” it said.

According to the analysis, Chinese plans for a large-scale landing on an island were clearly aimed at Taiwan and its outlying territories.

“The PLA considers reconnaissance and direct action missions — which would effectively open a second front to the enemy’s rear — critical to the success of such a campaign,” the analysis said.

According to McCauley, large-scale SOF deployment would start from the earliest phases of a possible operation aimed at Taiwan.

Special commando forces would also provide direct support to other troops, which would be ordered to control and maintain sea and air superiority, establish a beachhead and delay or repulse counterattacks, he said.

“Large-scale air and sea blockades could be the main campaign or a component of other campaigns against Taiwan,” McCauley added.

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