A Group Army (集團軍 in traditional Chinese /集团军 in simplified Chinese; jituan jun), is a major Chinese formation. Some may use or translate it 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). Adding confusion to multiple Chinese definitions of Group Army or Army Group is also made by literal translation or 'conversion' by non Chinese translators or military experts who do not really understand 军 by itself does have different meanings; with situations made worse by Chinese usage - both from PRC and ROC which have used both meanings rather interchangeably.
Hence any observer should ideally look at the number of troops (size) or component units i.e. numbers of Brigade, Division, Corps or Army of any Chinese Group Army or Army Group before comparing and working out the corresponding equivalence to other military formation - especially those from the NATO or Western militaries.
People's Liberation Army
- Shenyang Military Region: 16th, 23rd, 38th, 39th, 40th, 46th, 50th, 64th.
- 'Peiping Military Region': 21st, 24th, 63rd, 65th, 66th, 69th.
- 'Tsinan Military Region': 26th, 67th, 68th.
- 'Nanking Military Region': 12th, 20th, 22nd, 27th Army, 60th Army.
- 'Foochow Military Region': 28th, 31st Army.
- 'Canton Military Region': 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 47th, 55th.
- Wuhan Military Region: 1st, 10th Airborne (part of the PLAAF), 15th.
- Kunming Military Region: 13th Army, 14th Army.
- Chengdu Military Region: 54th Army.
- Inner Mongolia, Lanchou, Tibet, and Sinkiang Military Regions had no armies located within them.
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.” 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 Army (the Army and Chifeng garrison District Merger);
- 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 Group Army 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 with two or three group armies.
Other PRC Chinese language sources typically describe each Group Army has 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
- 1st Group Army (Zhejiang, Nanjing Military Region)
- 12th Group Army (Jiangsu, Nanjing Military Region)
- 13th Group Army (Chongqing, Chengdu Military Region)
- 14th Group Army (Kunming, Chengdu Military Region)
- 16th Group Army (Jilin, Shenyang Military Region)
- 20th Group Army (Henan, Jinan Military Region)
- 21st Group Army (Shaaxi, Lanzhou Military Region)
- 26th Group Army (Weifang, Shandong, Jinan Military Region)
- 27th Group Army (Hebei, Beijing Military Region)
- 31st Group Army (Fujian, Nanjing Military Region)
- 38th Group Army (Baoding, Beijing Military Region)
- 39th Group Army (Liaoning, Shenyang Military Region)
- 40th Group Army (Jinzhou, Liaoning, Shenyang Military Region)
- 41st Group Army (Guangxi, Guangzhou Military Region)
- 42nd Group Army (Guangdong, Guangzhou Military Region)
- 47th Group Army (Shaanxi, Lanzhou Military Region)
- 54th Group Army (Henan, Jinan Military Region)
- 65th Group Army (Hebei, Beijing Military Region)
National Revolutionary Army
- 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.
- 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, page 28 of 34
- 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).
- Sino Defence.com (under 'Ground Forces')
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