The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Military Academy

The Military Academy of the People’s Liberation Army of China in the western suburbs of Beijing (Peking) is an institute for high-ranking commanders reporting directly to the Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. At the foot of a mountain lapped by a river and surrounded by pine trees and flowers, the Academy prepares a large number of military commanders year after year.


The key to building a good army lies in the cadres and first and foremost

The formation of outstanding cadres depends on preparation. This was recently underscored by one of the academy’s directors, whose gray hair testifies to his experiences, including the fighting acquired during the war years. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), led by the Chinese Communist Party, has ruled several academies in the past. During the Revolutionary Agricultural War (1927-37), the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-45) and the War of Liberation (1946-49), the Red Army University, the Anti-Japanese Military and Political Institute, and others were established.

With the birth of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the PLA entered a time of modern and regular structure. To this end, in January 1951, the PLA Military Academy was formally established on the basis of the original military and political universities in north and east China. Marshal Liu Bocheng, a revolutionary, military theorist, and strategist who participated in the war and building the army, was its first director. Chairman Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) noted: The establishment of the Chinese PLA Military Academy marks a major turning point in the history of the building of the Chinese army.

Photo: A strange photo of Chinese communist soldiers wearing helmets, an item they usually don’t like very much.

Lu Quan, assistant teaching director, told me: The academy has achieved remarkable success. Most of the commands above the division level were taught there in the 1950s and 1960s and have become a backbone of our army. Some managers drew my attention to the tasks, the orientation, the admission requirements, the period of study and the academic subjects:

* Tasks: Training of high-ranking and middle commandos capable of organizing and directing combined forces in modern war missions, general staff officers for headquarters at higher levels than the army corps and researchers of military theories.

* Orientation Fixed and just political orientation, self-denial and simplicity in work, flexibility and agility in strategy and tactics, according to the well-known formulation of the late Chairman Mao Zedong.

* Admission requirements and period of study Admission to cadres of the Army Corps or higher and divisional commands of the combined armed forces, the average age of which is around 45 years. There is a one-year crash course for them. There is also a full two-year course for prominent division cadres and also for a small number of exceptionally competent regimental cadres with an average age of 35 years. After completing their studies, these are assigned to the command positions of the divisions and the army corps. Another two-year course is aimed at Army Corps Staff officers or higher. With an average age of around 29, these officers are assigned to the headquarters of the Army Corps after graduation.
To meet special needs, a two-year course on military theory was opened. Today the academy has about a thousand students enrolled, and in 1983 a two-year campaigning course began. Her goal is to prepare young and prominent cadres from division level for strategically thinking commanders who can lead campaigns and advanced tactical groups and who are familiar with modern land, sea and air forces.

* Selection of students. Officers who meet the requirements of the Academy’s admissions policy are recommended by the EPL Arms and Services and the major military zones to which they belong. Your qualifications will then be reviewed and approved by the relevant general departments and by the Academy itself before they are accepted. Although the academy does not have an entrance exam, the final exams are strict.

* Lesson content. 70 out of 100 subjects consist of military training, 20 percent of politics and the rest of science and technology. During the military course, students will learn the military thinking of Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong, strategic principles of active defense, science of strategy, campaign and tactics, thinking about strategy and operational characteristics of other countries, as well as the problem of using inferior equipment with superior enemies Defeat equipment and organize and direct campaigns and battles of the combined armed forces. At the same time, they study and analyze famous domestic and foreign military theories, war history and examples of battles. Although time is limited for political classes, materials are well chosen and attention is paid to ideological education.

* Professors. They come mainly from three sources, seasoned commanders of army units, outstanding graduates from military academies and graduates from university centers.
The academy has nine chairs and research chairs: Strategy, Campaign, Tactics, Combined Forces, Foreign Armies, Arms and Services, Science and Technology, Basic Theory of Marxism and History of the Communist Party of China, and Political Work.
In the future, the number of commanders who have no combat experience will keep increasing. Therefore, it has become an urgent task to prepare a new generation of young leaders who have a real fighting spirit. The admission requirements are becoming stricter. The admitted persons must have a background in schools or high schools of the ground forces, they explain to me.


How can one prepare commanders adapted to the characteristics of the people’s war in the current conditions and to the military technical development? This is the central problem that academy directors and professors face. Our country, they tell me, will never invade another. Therefore, the war that China must face in the future remains a war on aggression. Our country is still developing. From an international military equipment perspective, China will still be defeated in a war. Consequently, in compiling materials and lectures on military matters, teachers emphasize the strategy and tactics to be used in a war on aggression, and the operational methods to defeat an enemy armed with superior equipment.
In order for the commanders of the Chinese army to adapt to the various aspects of modern warfare, the cadets must have extensive knowledge of the various weapons and services.

Photo: Chairman Mao Zedong, whose teachings continue to guide the principles of the current Chinese military academy for senior executives.

In addition to the lectures, the chairs and research chairs of the various weapons and services have set up special study rooms in which diagrams, objects and models briefly show the main tasks of the armored army, navy and air force, as well as artillery units, anti-chemical and communication corps. Using audiovisual aids, they provide basic and operational knowledge of the properties of existing military equipment so that officers can skillfully direct a combined force with various weapons on the battlefield.

Both academy directors and professors point out that in training commanders for modern warfare, it is necessary to summarize one’s own experiences of the Chinese War of Independence and to take in useful foreign experience. For example, when I visited a special room, I saw students studying the Liaoxi-Shenyang, Beijing-Tianjin, and Huai-Hai campaigns, all of which were crucial strategic battles in the war of liberation. Another special room shows part of the Korean War Theater. Using sand models, electrical equipment, and recordings, hands-on courses are offered on these main campaigns for investigation by officials. With the help of television, movies, electronic computers and other modern devices, the study is very effective.

The academy offers a wide range of subjects for studying foreign armies. In addition to historical wars, officers also investigate recent conflicts. For example, when the war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands broke out, the Department of Education and Research on Foreign Armies immediately organized an academic research report on it, using fragments from international news information.

The basic teaching procedures can be summarized as follows: theoretical study, research into examples of war, simulation of operations (both on the map and in the field), and normal military exercises. In short, this means that the integration of theory into practice and experience shows that the method is really effective.

Huang Shuying, deputy chief of an army corps of Beijing units, was a famous hero during the war years, but he was not familiar with commanding a combined force. A few years ago he was sent to this military academy for advanced studies and excelled in all disciplines. Now he not only understands the use of infantry, artillery, chariots, and corps anti-chemical weapons, but has also acquired knowledge of naval and air force operations. Recently, in a large-scale military maneuver, he organized and led a battle between two enemy forces, including infantry, artillery, tank and missile units, and the air force. He handled the situation and directed the exercise with ease. Commanders and combatants praised him as an experienced commanders with rich experience in real warfare and knowledge of modern military science.

In the past few years, the military academy has trained thousands of outstanding commanders like Huang Shuying.


Our classes are aimed at meeting the needs of modern home defense, but we have not forgotten our ancient traditions, said many of the academy directors, teachers and students. In this EPL college, one can still observe the atmosphere of unity, dynamism, seriousness, and vitality typical of the Red Army University and the anti-Japanese military and political institute of the war years.

Some of the students come from strategic border areas; Others have been in the military for several decades and have rendered meritorious service repeatedly. And there are young combat heroes who have experienced counterattacks for self-defense and still have splinters on their bodies. After entering the academy, they made high demands on themselves to maintain strict discipline like any soldier, regardless of age and rank in the army. According to military rules, they go out at dawn to do exercises. At the sound of the cornet, they eat their food, study hard, rest at the specified time, and go to bed when the lights go out. In their free time, they also take part in rich and colorful leisure activities.

Defense Magazine No. 64-65, Aug 1983, Li Li

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