Military Wiki
1st Group Army (1947-2017)
72nd Army (2017 - )
Active February 1, 1947 - 2017
Country China
Part of Nanjing Military Region
Garrison/HQ Huzhou, Zhejiang

The 1st Group Army (Military Unit Cover Designator 73011) is a military formation of China's People's Liberation Army. It is one of three active group armies belonging to the Nanjing Military Region. It is based at Huzhou, Zhejiang and is composed of the 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division, an armored division, an artillery division, a motorized infantry brigade, an engineer regiment and an air defense brigade. It is considered a Category A unit, with priority status in terms of readiness, strength, and modern equipment. Based on its training activities and positioning, its primary mission is presumed to be the invasion of Taiwan. In mid 2017 the army was redesignated the 72nd Army.

History 1930-1990s

The 1st Group Army traces its origins back to the activation of the "2nd Red Army" in 1930 in Hunan. As the 358th Brigade of the 120th Division of the 8th Route Army the unit took part in the Long March. In 1946 the brigade was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Column of the Northwest Field Army. The 1st Column was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Corps on February 1, 1947, composed of the 358th Brigade, the 1st Independent Brigade and the 7th Brigade. In 1949 the unit was again reorganized and comprised the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions.[1] During the Chinese Civil War the 1st Corps took part in the battles for Shanzong, Fumei, and Longdong.

The 3rd Division was inactivated in 1952 and the 1st and 3rd Corps were reorganised and combined to form the 1st Corps with the 1st, 2nd, and 7th Divisions subordinate. 7th Division absorbed 9th Division, and was transferred to 1st Army, and 8th Division was absorbed by 2nd Division, 1st Corps.

Elements of the Corps arrived in Korea in April 1953. The corps was assigned to the Peking area on its return from Korea in 1958, but then arrived in the Kaifeng area in March 1961.[2]

The 2nd Infantry Division of the 1st Group Army conducted routine and field training in the Langxi area of the Anhui Province from early July 1991 until October 1991. An artillery brigade organic to the 1st Division of the 1st Group Army conducted offensive exercises and joint army and air force training including signal exercises, river crossing, infantry and armor maneuvers and counter-airborne operations in the Anhui Province bordering Anhui, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu Provinces from early August to late October 1991. In late February 1992 the 2nd Division conducted routine training and marching and field training exercises in West Village, Guangde Xian, Anhui Province.[3]

The 2nd Division was transferred to the People's Armed Police to become the 8690 Unit in the 1990s.[4]


The 1st Group Army is currently one of three group armies assigned to the Nanjing Military Region.

In 2006 Blasko reported that it comprised the 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division (Hangzhou), 3rd Motorised Infantry Brigade (Jinhua, Zhejiang), an unidentified armoured division at Suzhou, Jiangsu, the 9th Artillery Division at Wuxi, Jiangsu, and an unidentified air defence brigade at Zhenjiang, Jiangsu.[5]

By 2013 Blasko had amended his description and identified the armoured division as the 10th Armoured Division (People's Republic of China), as well as adding the 5th Army Aviation Regiment at Nanjiang, Jiangsu.[6]

An unidentified artillery division, probably the unit attached to the 1st Group Army as it is the only artillery division in the Nanjing MR, conducted tactical demonstrations in the East Anhui Mountains in late Fall 2002. The drills included simulated amphibious warfare operations as the unit conducted landing drills and during the course of the exercise had to choose an alternate landing site as the original site had "been destroyed". The unit was able to conduct fire support missions within eleven minutes of landing relocated to avoid counter-battery fires.[7]


  1. William W. Whitson, with Chen-hsia Huang. (1973) The Chinese high command; a history of Communist military politics, 1927-71. Foreword by Lucian W. Pye.
  2. Witson 1972, 114(?)
  3. Richard H. Yang eds. China's Military: The PLA in 1992/1993 (Taipei: Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies; 1993): p. 191-2
  4. Dennis J. Blasko. "PLA Ground Forces: Moving Toward a Smaller, More Rapidly Deployable, Modern Combined Arms Force" The People's Liberation Army as Organization: Reference Volume v1.0, James C. Mulvenon and Andrew N. D. Yang eds. (Santa Monico: RAND; 2002)
  5. Blasko, 2006, 82
  6. Blasko 2013, Tradition and Transformation, 97.
  7. Nanjing MR Renmin Qianxin 30 October 2002 (PLA Activities Report November 2002)

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