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Group armies or army groups (simplified Chinese: 集团军; traditional Chinese: 集團軍; pinyin: jituan jun) are corps-level military formations of the People's Liberation Army of China.

Some may use or translate 'Group Army' loosely to mean the same as Army Group and through various time periods or history, depending on whether the military formation is under Nationalist China (ROC) or Communist China (PRC), Chinese Army Group or Group Army could be equivalent to field army or army group in other militaries but NOT necessarily so. This is because while 军 in Chinese means "corps" when classifying by size or number of troops, it also means (and more frequently so) in common and less precise military usage - any significant grouping of combat troops / i.e. army (usually corps size or larger; including Army or Army Group as per defined by most international military forces).


From November 1948, the People's Liberation Army regularised the existing large number of armies and divisions into some sixty-seven armies of three divisions each. While some, such as the 1st Army, survived for over fifty years, a number were quickly amalgamated and disestablished in the early 1950s. From November 1948 to October 1952, the PLA formed 67 armies. The 56th Army, 57th Army, and 59th Army has not been formed.[1]

It appears that over 37% (26 of 70) of the seventy new armies may have been disestablished from 1949 to 1953. In 1949, the 8th and 34th Armies were disbanded,[2] in 1950, the 30th and 35th Armies was disbanded in January, the 51st Army on September 24, 1950[3] and the 29th, 32nd, and 33rd in November 1950. 45th and 48th Armies appears to have been broken up in 1951-52; 48th Army had 142nd Division become 11th Public Security Division and 144th Division transfer to 21st Army/Corps. 52nd Army was broken up on September 2, 1951. In 1952, the 3rd, 4th, 9th, 10th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 25th (July 1952), 36th, 37th, 43rd, 44th, and 49th Armies were disbanded.[4] The 36th and 37th Armies appear to have been broken up both in February 1952 and both may have been reorganised for engineering tasks. 44th Army was broken up in October 1952 with headquarters elements possibly transferred to the Navy, 131st Division to the Navy Qingdao Base and 132nd Division to 43rd Army. 49th Army was broken up in January.[5] It appears that the 2nd and 6th Corps were disbanded in 1953. 5th Army/Corps was reorganised into a military region in October 1954.

After the Landing Operation on Hainan Island, the 43rd Army merged with the Hainan Military Region on July 5, 1952. In September 1968 the 43rd Army was reformed, including the 127th Division, the 128th Division, the 220th Division (September 19, 1969 was renamed the 129th Division), and to defend Guangxi Guilin. October 17, 1969, moved to Henan Luoyang, changed to Wuhan Military Region leadership (129th Division left Guiyang "support left", in January 1973 to build). Zhang Wannian became corps commander in 1981. In October 1985, the 43rd Army was disbanded again,[6] the 127th Division transferred to the 54th Army, the 128th Division in 1985 to the 20th Army, and in 1996 an Armed Police Mobile Division. The 129th Division was disbanded.

In March 1967, the Central Intelligence Agency identified some 35 field corps:[7]

In the mid-1980s, Deng Xiaoping began to redefine PLA orientation radically, beginning with a reassessment in 1985 of the overall international security environment that lowered the probability of a major or nuclear war. Instead, Deng asserted that China would be confronted with limited, local wars on its periphery. The natural consequence of this sweeping reassessment was an equally comprehensive reorientation of the Chinese military. The number of military regions was reduced from 11 to 7, and the 37 field armies were restructured to bring “tank, artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineer, and NBC defense units under a combined arms, corps-level headquarters called the Group Army.”[8] Between 1985 and 1988, the 37 field armies were reduced to 24 group armies, and thousands of units at the regimental level and above were disbanded.

—James C. Mulvernon, 'The PLA Army's Struggle for Identity,' in The PLA and China in Transition, INSS/NDU, 2003, 111.

Potential disbanded field armies may have included:

  • Shenyang Military Region, the 68th Corps. In 1985 the 68th Corps was reorganised as the Chifeng Garrison, in Inner Mongolia but part of the Shenyang MD.[9]
  • Beijing Military Region section 66 of the Army (the Army and the Tianjin Garrison combined), 69 Jun;
  • Lanzhou Military Region; 19 Jun
  • Jinan Military Region Jun 46;
  • 43 of the Wuhan Military Region Army;
  • 60 Army of the Nanjing Military Region;
  • Fuzhou Military Region 29 Army;
  • Guangzhou Military Region, the 55th Army;
  • Chengdu Military Region, 50th Army;
  • Kunming Military Region, Jun 11. 24 Army

From 1997 to 2000, force reductions resulted in the disbandment of three group armies: the 28th (BMR), 64th (Dalian, Liaoning, SMR), and the 67th Group Army at Zibo, Shandong, in the Jinan Military Region. (Blasko, 2006, 74) In September 2003, a further series of reductions were announced, and from 2003 to 2006 the 24th Group Army at Chengde, Hebei, the 63rd at Taiyuan, Shaanxi (both BMR), and the 23rd Group Army at Harbin in the Shenyang Military Region were eliminated. (Blasko, 2006, 75).

The People's Liberation Army Ground Force has 18 regular 集团军 or 'Group Armies'. However, a modern Chinese army group is a corps-sized combined arms formation with gross manpower ranging from 45,000 to 60,000 personnel. Each of the PLA’s seven military regions is assigned two or three group armies.[10]

Other PRC Chinese language sources typically describe each army group as having 2 or 3 Divisions (mainly Infantry but some are Armour, Motorized or Artillery Divisions) and further augmented by several Brigade or regiment sized 'combat arms'/ 'support-arms' formations e.g. artillery, armour, air defence artillery, motorized (infantry), aviation/helicopter regiment etc.

PLA Group Armies and their headquarters up until 2016

PLA Group Armies and their headquarters after April 2017


  • Red pog.svg Northern Theater Command, TC headquarter at Shenyang, Liaoning;
    • TC Ground Force Headquarter Jinan, Shandong.
      • 78th Group Army (Harbin, Heilongjiang, formerly 16th Group Army);
      • 79th Group Army (Shenyang, Liaoning, formerly 39th Group Army);
      • 80th Group Army (Weifang, Shandong, formerly 26th Group Army).

PLA Army groups listed below have been disbanded:

    • 14th Group Army
    • 20th Group Army
    • 27th Group Army
    • 40th Group Army
    • 47th Group Army

National Revolutionary Army

By the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the National Revolutionary Army had organized 40 army groups. These were roughly equivalent to a field army in other militaries.[11]


  1., "The Lost Army" in Chinese (
  2. The 34th Army was disbanded in November 1950 but all three of its divisions had been reassigned in 1949: the 100th to the 33rd Army in July; the 101st to the 10th Army/Corps in November, and the 102nd in December to a special assignment but then became 3rd Artillery Division. In November 1950 the military organs and direct troops of the army became the East China Public Security 13 Division (PLA360).
  3. 211th Division may have become Huanggang Military District, and 212th another district.
  4. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}".  Regarding the 25th Corps/Army, the second 75 Division Headquarters Air Force, 73rd division redeploy 23 Army, 74th Division redeploy the 24th Army, the 75th division of the group were redeploy first 31 Army and Jiangsu military.
  5. 'The military adapted for the Air Force 3rd Army, the first 145 Division into the 21st Corps, 146th division transferred to the Guangxi Military Region, the first 147 division adapted for the 12th Division of public security' (PLA360).
  6. Swaine, Michael D. (1992). The Military & Political Succession in China: Leadership Institutions Beliefs. RAND Corporation. p. 222. ISBN 0-8330-1296-7. 
  7. Central Intelligence Agency, National Intelligence Estimate No. 13-3-67 Communist China's Military Policy and its General Purpose and Air Defense Forces, 6 April 1967 Archived 28 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine., page 28 of 34
  8. Dennis J. Blasko, “PLA Force Structure: A 20-Year Retrospective,” in Seeking Truth from Facts, ed. James C.Mulvenon and Andrew N.D. Yang (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2001).
  9. Swaine, Michael D. (1992). The Military & Political Succession in China: Leadership Institutions Beliefs. RAND Corporation. p. 221. ISBN 0-8330-1296-7. 
  10. Sino (under 'Ground Forces') Archived November 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Hsu Long-hsuen and Chang Ming-kai, History of The Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) 2nd Ed., 1971. Translated by Wen Ha-hsiung, Chung Wu Publishing; 33, 140th Lane, Tung-hwa Street, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.

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