23 July 2012 ~ 0 Comments

The Conventional Missile Capabilities of China’s Second Artillery Force: Cornerstone of Deterrence and Warfighting

Michael S. Chase and Andrew S. Erickson, The Conventional Missile Capabilities of China’s Second Artillery Force: Cornerstone of Deterrence and Warfighting,” Asian Security, 8.2 (Summer 2012): 115-37.

Abstract: Since its establishment in the early 1990s, the conventional missile component of the People’s Liberation Army’s Second Artillery Force (SAF) has emerged as a centerpiece of China’s accelerating military modernization program. The conventional missile force has grown in size and sophistication, and China has developed a doctrine for its employment. Chinese military publications emphasize that it plays an increasingly important role in deterrence and warfighting. In particular, Chinese sources underscore its role in achieving information dominance, air superiority, and sea control as well as countering third-party intervention. China’s development of advanced conventional missile capabilities highlights the growing vulnerability of fixed bases and surface ships. Moreover, organizational tendencies, could fuel dangerous escalation. In response to these challenges, the United States must adapt its traditional approach to military operations and deterrence in the Asia-Pacific.

Introduction

 The transformation of the Second Artillery Force (SAF) – the part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) responsible for most of China’s conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles and land-attack cruise missiles (LACM) – is one of the most important elements of Chinese military modernization. China has progressed rapidly from having a limited and vulnerable nuclear ballistic missile capability to having one of the most impressive nuclear and conventional ballistic missile and land-attack cruise missile programs of any nation. This transformation is underscored by the 2010 unclassified report on Chinese military power issued by the US Department of Defense (DoD), which states that “China has the most active land-based ballistic and cruise missile program in the world.” …

The remainder of this article consists of five parts. The first reviews the development of China’s conventional missile force. The second surveys its emerging doctrine for deterrence and strike operations. The third examines the conventional missile capabilities China is developing and deploying to enable the SAF to implement these force employment concepts. The fourth provides an overview of recent developments in SAF training. The fifth assesses the challenges that China’s growing conventional missile force capabilities may pose to the United States and its allies and friends in the Western Pacific and offers recommendations for US planners and policymakers. …