Special Operations and Counterterrorist Units
China's military will is handled by two entities; the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and People's Armed Police
(PAP). There is a great deal of change and restructuring within these two military forces and readers should note
that information here could become out of date quickly. There has been an ongoing restructuring of these two units
since the late 1970s that has seen the reduction of the PLA from a bloated force of over four million to a goal of
around two million by 2010. Some of those numbers have been transferred to the PAP, others have not.
The PAP is responsible for domestic security and is similar essentiall an expanded national police force. Units of
the PAP are responsible for internal defence, some frontier defence, fire brigade units, forest police, traffic, and
hydroelectricity security. For the most part PAP units are based near major population centers in China.
The PLA is the parent unit for the majority of the Chinese military. It features divisions such as the People's
Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
China's SOF and Information
Immediate Action Unit (IAU)
Interestingly, China's counterterrorist unit is drawn from the police force
rather than the military. The name changes frequently, but as of this writing, it is known as the Immediate Action
Unit (IAU). The Chinese Army fields large number of special operations groups and would appear to have a vast pool of
manpower to choose from. However, it is believed that any significant terrorist activity within Chinese borders would
draw the attention of the IAU.
Article: China Forms New Force for Long-range Operations (Fall
China has reportedly developed a force capable of carrying out long-range
air-borne operations, long-range reconnaissance, and amphibious operations. Formed in China's Guangzhou military
region and known by the nickname "Sword of Southern China", the force supposedly receives army, air force
and naval training, including flight training, and is equipped with "hundreds of high-tech devices",
including global-positioning satellite systems. All of the force's officers have completed military staff colleges,
and 60 percent are said to have university degrees. Soldiers are reported to be cross-trained in various specialties,
and training is supposed to encompass a range of operational environments. It is far from clear whether this unit is
considered operational by the Chinese. It is also not clear how such a force would be employed. Among the missions
mentioned were "responding to contingencies in various regions" and "cooperating with other services
in attacks on islands". According to the limited reporting, the organization appears to be in a phase of testing
and development and may constitute an experimental unit. While no size for the force has been revealed, there have
been Chinese media claims that "over 4000 soldiers of the fore are all-weather and versatile fighters and
parachutists who can fly airplanes and drive auto vehicles and motor boats".