U.S. takes note of China’s Theater Command exercise of ‘huge scope and scale’

FPI / August 11, 2021


By Richard Fisher

August is military exercise season, and China is conducting two simultaneous high-profile exercises, one with Russia and the other in the South China Sea.

The Zapad/Interaction-2021 China-Russia exercise will feature Russian troops using Chinese equipment like the ZTL-11 wheeled tank. / People’s Daily

It has apparently held a much more ominous Theater Command level exercise.

Chinese Ministry of Defense Spokesman Wu Qian announced the exercise with Russia on July 29, saying, “The purpose of this exercise is to consolidate and develop a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Russia.”

Also, China apparently has held a much larger exercise. This disclosure was made by U.S. Marine Corp Maj. Gen. Dave Furness, Deputy Assistant Commandant for Plans, Policy and Operations, during an Aug. 2 afternoon panel on issues confronting the IndoPacific for the U.S. Navy League Sea Air Space 2021 convention.

Gen. Furness stated that China had held “a large-scale exercise, a theater level exercise of huge scope and scale. It’s something that really U.S. forces haven’t done, you know, since Reforger — and you’re in the ’80s — of that scale. And they’re pulling it off.”

While Gen. Furness did not provide any other details, that the PLA could hold a Theater Command level exercise would represent a major accomplishment following its massive structural reforms started in late 2015.

A Theater Command level exercise would also constitute the achievement of a key level of capability required to initiate a general war against Taiwan.

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