14 March 2014

China Insights from DIA Director LtGen Flynn’s SASC Testimony

Michael T. Flynn, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, “Annual Threat Assessment,” Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, United States Senate, Washington, DC, 11 February 2014.

Here are the China-relevant excerpts from Lt. Gen. Flynn’s recent testimony. I’ve bolded and underlined the ones I believe to be most interesting and important. These include:

Now for the related portions of original text:


China is expanding as a supplier of advanced conventional weapons, supplementing its traditional exports of basic battlefield equipment such as small arms, artillery and armored vehicles to include more advanced examples of long-range multiple launch rocket artillery, improved surface to air missile systems and anti-ship cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles, several of which are armed variants. China’s rapid development of new products, aggressive marketing, and relatively low pricing will allow more countries with limited access to advanced weapons to acquire some of these capabilities. …


… China, Iran, and North Korea, for example, exercise near simultaneous salvo firings from multiple locations to saturate missile defenses. …


China: Beijing is pursuing space efforts for military, economic and political objectives. China’s military operates satellites for communications, navigation, earth resources, weather, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance purposes, in addition to manned space and space exploration missions. Typically, China has emphasized the domestic and international benefits of its space program. Internationally, China views the success of these capabilities as a contributor to its growing status and influence, but refrains from highlighting any specific military applicability.

Regarding its counterspace activities, China’s test of a ground-based anti-satellite missile in 2007 and the resulting debris generation in the atmosphere has  been well publicized. If deployed, such a capability and the resultant orbital debris is a threat to all countries’ military, civilian, and commercial space assets to the peaceful usage of outer space. Non-kinetic counterspace solutions in development also include jammers. …


The use of underground facilities (UGFs) to conceal and protect critical military and other assets and functions is widespread and expanding. UGFs conceal and increase the survivability of weapons of mass destruction, strategic command and control, leadership protection and relocation, military research and development, military production and strategic military assets. A significant trend of concern is the basing of ballistic and cruise missiles and other systems designed for anti-access/area denial weapons directly within UGFs. In addition, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea operate national-level military denial and deception programs. These four states are devoting increased resources, and particular attention, to improving the denial and deception tactics, techniques, and procedures, for their road-mobile missile and cruise missile forces.



China: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is building a modern military capable of achieving success on a 21st century battlefield. The PLA is developing capabilities to protect China’s defined territorial integrity, which includes Taiwan and other land and maritime claims along around China’s periphery, preserve China’s political system and ensure sustainable economic and social development.

Preparation for a Taiwan conflict with U.S. intervention remains the primary driver of the PLA’s evolving force structure, weapons development, operational planning and training.

China has spent as much as $240 billion on military–related goods and services in 2013, in contrast to the $119.5 billion Beijing reported in its official military budget. This budget omits major categories, but it does show spending increases for domestic military production and programs to improve professionalism and the quality of life for military personnel.

Disputed territorial claims in the East and South China Seas remain potential flashpoints. The Chinese announcement in November 2013 that it was establishing an air identification zone (ADIZ) over portions of the East China Sea has increased tensions since this ADIZ overlaps with other preexisting ADIZ’s and covers territory administrated by Japan and the Republic of Korea. China’s announcement raised tensions and increased the risk of incidents that could undermine peace, security, and prosperity in the region.

China’s ground force is seeking to restructure itself into a mechanized, modular force that can conduct joint operations anywhere along China’s borders. This effort is currently taking shape with an emphasis on building and outfitting brigades as the main operational unit and creating flexible special operations forces, improved army aviation units, and C2 capabilities with improved networks providing real‐time data transmissions within and between units

China’s air force is transforming from a force oriented solely on territorial defense into one capable of both offshore offensive and defensive roles – including strike, air and missile defense, early warning, and reconnaissance. It is also seeking to improve its strategic projection by increasing its long‐range transport and logistical capabilities. Modernization efforts include investing in stealth technology.

China also continues negotiations with Russia for Su35 fighter aircraft; however, a contract is unlikely to be signed until later this year, at the earliest.

The PLA navy is developing the JIN‐class nuclear‐powered ballistic missile submarine and JL‐2 submarine‐launched ballistic missile. We expect the navy will make their first nuclear deterrence patrols in 2014. It has also recently deployed for the first time a nuclearpowered attack submarine to the Indian Ocean. China is also continuing negotiations for the jointdesign and production for a new advanced conventional submarine based on the Russian LADAclass. China’s investment in naval

weapons primarily focuses on anti‐air and anti‐surface capabilities to achieve periodic and local sea and air superiority within the first island chain. China’s first aircraft carrier, commissioned in late 2012, will not reach its full potential until it acquires an operational fixed‐wing air regiment over the next several years.

To modernize its nuclear missile force, China is also adding more survivable road‐mobile systems and enhancing its silo‐based systems. This new generation of missiles is intended to ensure the viability of China’s strategic deterrent by ensuring a second strike capability.

The military is also augmenting the over 1,200 conventional short‐range ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan with a limited but growing number of conventionally armed, medium‐range ballistic missiles, including the DF‐16, which will improve China’s ability to strike regional targets. China also continues to deploy growing numbers of the DF‐21D anti‐ship ballistic missile. …