Jeremy Rausch
Assistant Director
Political and Security Affairs

[email protected]

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

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Winter Session: December 6–8, 2023

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The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) offered the seventh iteration of its three-day executive education course on China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on October 18–20, 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.

Chad Sbragia

Chad Sbragia
Course Senior Mentor

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China

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. Mr. Chad Sbragia, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China (2019–21), 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 (October 2023)
PLA History and Strategic Culture Daniel Peck, U.S. Army (retired)

Party-Military Relations Phillip Saunders, National Defense University

Exercises and Operational Deployments Mark Cozad, RAND Corporation

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

PLA Organization and Reform Joel Wuthnow, National Defense University

The People in the PLA Eric Hundman, BluePath Labs

Roles and Missions of the PLA Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Force TBD

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

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

The U.S. Factor in PLA Strategy BG (ret.) Brian Davis, BluePath Labs