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The evolution of joint warfare and China’s military modernisation

posted on 30.01.2017, 22:42 by Kumar, Atul
Joint Warfare has become pre-eminent military doctrine of American forces after the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986. American forces’ clear superiority and operational efficiency, in wars during 1991-2003, has attracted global interest in the doctrine, not least from Beijing. Hence, joint warfare has become the centerpiece of military doctrine for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) throughout the last 20 years. In China, the military doctrine has moved from ‘People’s War’ to ‘People’s War Under Modern Conditions’ to ‘Local/Limited Warfare’ to ‘Local/Limited War Under High-Tech Conditions’ and further to ‘Local/Limited War Under Informatised Conditions’. The ‘informatised conditions’ in this doctrine indicate to interconnection, intercommunication and interoperation among fighting units. Hence, the new doctrine of ‘Local War Under Informatised Conditions’ is in reality, ‘Local War Under Joint Operational Conditions’. The focus of the PLA has moved towards precision guided weapons, Special Forces operations, advanced C4ISR developments and joint operations. Further, PLA’s theoretical understanding of the Joint Warfare Doctrine has improved considerably. It has succeeded in achieving a fair level of efficiency in the joint training exercises at tactical and campaign levels. In addition, the PLA has developed joint information systems for network warfare capability, synchronisation of unit actions and better efficiency. At the campaign level, PLA is developing ‘Integrated Command Platforms (ICPs)’. Additionally, China is developing joint logistics systems and a joint officer corps. The PLA has also increased its materiel capabilities substantially across ground, air, naval and other domains, in qualitative and quantitative dimensions. However, major obstacles such as corruption, lack of jointness at higher defence echelons, lack of battle experience, and other structural and materiel gaps have hampered the integration process. Due to these gaps, the PLA is yet to develop a better and efficient level of jointness and interoperability. Consequently, China’s long range expeditionary capability remains limited.


Principal supervisor

Remy Davison

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Social Sciences (Monash Australia)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts