24 May 2016

Chinese Navy Trains and Takes Risks

Unquestionably a must-read article by a leading expert on a vital topic! Cogent, pithy, informative, and insightful.

Capt. Dale C. Rielage, USN, “Chinese Navy Trains and Takes Risks,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 142.5 (May 2016): 36-41.

Improvements in Chinese Navy multi-mission platforms have seen a focus on realistic training.

In the past decade, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has added significant new capabilities to its order of battle. The average PLAN surface combatant is now a capable, multi-mission platform. The PLAN submarine force is increasingly composed of modern conventional and nuclear units, many employing long-range antiship cruise missiles. The aircraft carrier Liaoning continues steady work as China learns the art and science of naval aviation.

Hardware, however, defines the limits of what is technically possible for a navy. Effectiveness in combat rests on proficiency in employing the tools at hand, and the PLAN understands that fact. The past ten years have seen a major improvement in the scope and complexity of PLAN training that has paralleled the expansion in its missions, operations, and capabilities. This substantial training program is intended to ensure that the PLAN’s expanding arsenal of high-technology weapons can be employed to carry out the missions the PLAN has been given by the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Central to these are high-end naval combat tasks—the fundamentals of fleet action against a foreign navy intervening against People’s Republic of China (PRC) interests. While no training is a perfect facsimile of combat, the PLAN’s proficiency is increasing through this deliberate investment in more advanced and realistic training.

The depth and sophistication of public analysis of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has grown in recent years, reflecting a need to understand the PLA’s modernization and ability to intervene in an increasing range of potential friction points. PLA training has been a part of these studies, but most works have involved changes in the senior-level structures that administer training and on PLA efforts to train for joint warfare. PLA leadership has concentrated on making training more effective and more “joint,” and the PLAN has benefited from changes in these areas. However, while these issues are essential, they do not speak to the basic question of how the PLAN trains itself. …

Captain Dale C. Rielage
Director, Intelligence and Information Operations (N2/N39)

Captain Dale Rielage is the U.S. Pacific Fleet director of intelligence and information operations. He is a career intelligence officer who is in his sixth consecutive tour focused on the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

He began his career as a surface warfare officer, serving on USS Stark (FFG 31) as communications officer, assistant navigator and damage control assistant. Redesignated as a special duty (intelligence) officer, he has served at sea on the staff of Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, and as deputy assistant chief of staff for intelligence at the U.S. 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan. Ashore, he served in the Pentagon as deputy executive assistant to the director of naval intelligence, and in the U.S. Embassy, Berlin, Germany, as the assistant naval attaché. From 2006 to 2008, he led the Contingencies Branch of the U.S. Pacific Fleet intelligence directorate. During 2011, he served as senior intelligence officer for China at the Office of Naval Intelligence, a position normally held by a defense intelligence senior leader, before becoming director of the chief of naval operations’ Navy Asia Pacific Advisory Group. He returned to the fleet as assistant chief of staff for intelligence (N2) for Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet before assuming duties at U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Rielage is a graduate of Miami University (Ohio) and holds a master’s degree in history from Old Dominion University. His awards include two Legions of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, three Navy Commendation Medals, as well as the Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

One of the publications cited herein:

Andrew S. Erickson and Austin M. Strange, No Substitute for Experience: Chinese Anti-Piracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden, Naval War College CMSI China Maritime Study 10 (November 2013).