Over at Ezra’s place, Dymaxion John had an interesting post about the PLA and Islamic insurgents in Western China. The idea of the PLA developing counter-insurgency doctrine fascinates me from a military culture point of view, since the PLA originated as an insurgent organization. How well did they make the switch from being guerrillas to hunting guerrillas? The PLA fought a successful counter-insurgency campaign against Tibetan rebels who were being supported by India, Taiwan, and the US in the 1950s, although it took about ten years. Information about the campaign is predictably sparse. I have to suspect, though, that as the PLA has made the transition to a modern, conventional military organization it’s lost much of whatever counter-insurgency capability it may once have had. Still, the article John highlights indicates some success, which may mean that the expertise the PLA developed is still somewhere in its intellectual roots and doctrinal toolkit.
Cross-posted at Tapped.