Jeremy Rausch
Assistant Director
Political and Security Affairs

[email protected]

The People's Liberation Army (PLA): An Executive Education Course for Analysts and Practitioners (April 2023)

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) offered the fifth iteration of its three-day executive education course on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on April 12–14, 2023 in Washington, D.C. As part of China’s efforts to build a “world-class military” by 2049, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has undergone rapid modernization under General Secretary Xi Jinping. The PLA now rivals or surpasses the U.S. military in key areas, including land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missile capabilities, the military application of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing, and a naval fleet larger than that of the U.S. Navy. Moreover, since 2015, Beijing has undertaken significant operational and structural reforms of the PLA with the explicit objective of building a modern, integrated joint force capable of a complex range of operations.

Participants in this course joined a series of interactive seminar-style classes and lunch discussions, as well as a simulation exercise, as part of a curriculum shaped by world-class PLA specialists on one of the world’s most formidable militaries. Session topics ranged from China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy and party-military relations to strategic doctrine, operational concepts, organizational reform, and service-based analyses. Mr. Chad Sbragia, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, served as the course’s Senior Mentor, providing key context and takeaways to participants throughout the course.

The course’s varied curriculum, interactive format, and condensed schedule are tailored to meet the needs of military and civilian practitioners, industry leaders, and research professionals working on China-related security issues, allowing participants to develop a unique skillset to apply to everyday work in government and industry alike.

Session List (April 2023)
PLA History and Strategic Culture David Finkelstein, CNA

Party-Military Relations: The PLA in the Chinese Party-State Tim Heath, RAND Corporation

Recruitment, Training, and Education Kevin McCauley

Military Theory, Strategy, and Operational Doctrine and Concepts Alison Kaufman, CNA

PLA Organization and Reform Joel Wuthnow, Georgetown University

Roles and Missions of the PLA Air, Ground, and Naval Services Cristina Garafola, RAND Corporation

Roles and Missions of the PLA Strategic Support Force James Mulvenon, Peraton Labs

Roles and Missions of the PLA Rocket Force David Logan, U.S. Naval War College

Modernization, Technology, and Military-Civil Fusion Emily Weinstein, CSET

The U.S. Factor in PLA Strategy Jacqueline Deal, Long Term Strategy Group

More Upcoming Sessions
Summer Session: August 23–25, 2023

Fall Session: November 1–3, 2023

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