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

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) offered the eighth iteration of its three-day executive education course on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on December 6–8, 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.

BG Brian Davis (Ret.)
Senior Mentor

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 range from China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy and party-military relations to strategic doctrine, operational concepts, organizational reform, and service-based analyses. Brigadier General Brian Davis (ret.), former Director of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s China Strategic Focus Group and former Defense Attaché to 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.


Includes breakfast and lunch for each day of the course, as well as readings and other materials.

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

Party-Military Relations Andrew Scobell, U.S. Institute of Peace

The People in the PLA Morgan Clemens, Exovera LLC

Military Theory, Strategy, and Operational Doctrine and Concepts TBD

PLA Organization and Reform Phillip Saunders, National Defense University

Exercises and Operational Deployments Mark Cozad, RAND Corporation

Roles and Missions of the PLA Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Force Cristina Garafola, RAND Corporation

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

Modernization, Technology, and Military-Civil Fusion John Schurtz, Allen Integrated Solutions

The U.S. Factor in PLA Strategy Kristen Gunness, RAND Corporation

More Upcoming Sessions

March 6-8, 2024
June 5-7, 2024
September 11-13, 2024
December 4-6, 2024

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