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China to test ‘digitized’ troops in massive drills

Published time: May 29, 2013 09:22
AFP Photo

AFP Photo

China is to test its modern ‘digitized’ military units in an exercise next month. The Chinese military says developing such units is among its priorities for modernizing the armed forces.

‘Digitized’ troops are taking advantage of modern information technology to succeed on the battlefield. Integrated computerized systems are used to gather intelligence, assess the combat situation, provide communications and control the status of a unit. China sees upgrading its People's Liberation Army (PLA) with such systems as crucial for making it a smaller, yet more capable force.

In late June, two combined corps of the Beijing Military Area Command will be conducting drills at the Zhurihe training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, reports Xinhua news agency.

The general staff said the exercise will focus “on combat forces including digitalized units, special operations forces, army aviation and electronic counter forces.” It would be the first publicly-announced field training of the IT-enhanced troops by China.

While military experts have long said that digitizing its soldiers is likely to be high on China’s priorities, the PLA first admitted it to be true in April in its white paper entitled ‘The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces’. The document provides an overview of the country’s military capabilities and Beijing’s policies regarding their use.

Beijing is investing heavily into upgrading its military, buying or developing new types of hardware, including aircraft carriers, strategic missile submarines and advanced aircraft. The modernization is part of China’s building up political clout corresponding to its economic development.

China is also accused by some nations, including the US, of conducting hacker operations to steal military technology. The Pentagon recently pointed fingers to Beijing, reporting that it acquired blueprints for some of America’s most sophisticated weaponry. The classified report was leaked to the media.

Beijing denies the allegations, saying that PLA’s cyber-warfare unit created in 2011 is purely defensive in nature.

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