In February 2023, think tanks such as the US Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security conducted multiple war games against a possible future war across the Taiwan Strait . This dynamic shows that the US military is preparing for a possible future Sino-US hot war .
Because the U.S. military has a powerful global force projection system, even if it is fighting at China’s doorstep, the U.S. military is confident that it can project a sufficient amount of troops in a short period of time.
So, if war breaks out, how long will it take for the Chinese Army to reach the front line? In fact, although the efficiency of the US military’s force projection is indeed very high, the People’s Liberation Army also has strengths that cannot be underestimated in this regard . Western media once commented on the mobilization efficiency of the PLA: “This is the eighth wonder of the world!”
How efficient is the U.S. military’s global force projection?
Before introducing the mobilization efficiency of the People’s Liberation Army, we can first look at the level of troop projection efficiency of the U.S. military, which has a complete air transportation system .
Two months before the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991, then US President George W. Bush authorized the US armed forces to use force against Iraq, and then the US military’s war machine began to run at high speed.
With more than 400 C-5 “Galaxy” transport aircraft, C-17 “Global Overlord” transport aircraft, and C-141 “Transport Star” transport aircraft, the US military delivered more than 400,000 troops and 550,000 tons to the Saudi base in 42 days military supplies.
In other words, 30 years ago, the U.S. military was able to send more than 10,000 troops to any place in the world at an average rate of 24 hours. This is also an important reason why the United States can firmly control the situation in the Middle East thousands of miles away. After the end of the Cold War, the slogan put forward by the US military is exactly.
Today, the U.S. military still retains a strong strategic air logistics force , with more than 500 aerial tankers and more than 660 transport aircraft of various types.
In addition, the U.S. military has deployed as many as 374 military bases around the world, basically all over the world. Therefore, the U.S. military does have the ability to assemble a large number of troops anywhere in the world in a very short period of time.
Chinese Army Mobilization Efficiency
Since China is not a global hegemonic country like the United States, the scope of the PLA’s build-up is basically limited to its national borders , and there is no need to consider global force projection. Under such circumstances, what level of mobilization efficiency has the PLA reached in China?
At present, the closest foreign war to us is the 1979 self-defense counterattack against Vietnam. In December 1978, after the Soviet Union and Vietnam signed a military alliance treaty, the Central Military Commission decided to launch a counterattack against Vietnam and began to mobilize the People’s Liberation Army to the Sino-Vietnamese border.
After about two months of preparation, the PLA finally mobilized more than 500,000 troops into combat, of which 200,000 were front-line combat troops, and the remaining 300,000 were responsible for the logistics support system.
During the assembly of troops, the troops of the People’s Liberation Army basically use a combination of roads and railways to reach designated locations, that is, mobilize for war on the basis of motorization.
Compared with the past era of mules and horses of the PLA, the mobilization efficiency of the motorized PLA has been greatly improved. Under the condition of relatively complete domestic transportation routes, it can achieve an average mobilization efficiency of more than 7,000 to 9,000 people on the front line every day.
Another case that can reflect the mobilization efficiency of the PLA is the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake relief . In the 13th minute after the Wenchuan Earthquake broke out, the emergency mechanism of the People’s Liberation Army has been activated, and the troops in the vicinity of the disaster area have started to organize rescue forces and prepare to rush to the earthquake-stricken area.
In the 15th minute, the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army issued a disaster relief order, and the Air Force went into disaster relief operations. At the same time, Chengdu Military Region, which is closest to the disaster area, took the lead in dispatching more than 12,000 people to Dujiangyan, Mianzhu, Beichuan and other earthquake-stricken areas to protect the lives and properties of the people at the first time.
Twenty-four hours after the earthquake , the 15th Airborne Army of the People’s Liberation Army, under the command of Major General Wang Weishan, carried out an airborne attack and became the first relief force of the People’s Liberation Army to enter Wenchuan.
As of the 15th day after the earthquake broke out, the People’s Liberation Army had dispatched a total of more than 113,000 people to the disaster area, and at the same time there were more than 23,000 armed police and militia forces to reinforce the earthquake relief operations.
Given the unpredictability of the outbreak of an earthquake, it can be compared to a certain extent with the mobilization efficiency of the People’s Liberation Army in a state of emergency after the outbreak of war.
It can be seen that after more than 30 years of construction, the People’s Liberation Army, which has basically realized mechanization , has greatly improved its mobilization efficiency. It not only has developed means of land transportation, but also has developed an air strategic projection capability similar to that of the US military. The German Handelsblatt once commented on the performance of the PLA in the Wenchuan earthquake.