Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review: Chinese Military Modernization

Anthony H. Cordesman and Martin Kleiber
Chinese Military Modernization: Force Development and Strategic Capabilities
Washington, DC: CSIS Press, 2007
Category: People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)

Rating: 4-Stars

This book is in many respects the natural extension of earlier works, such as the Rand Corporation's study, China's Air Force Enters the 21st Century - featuring a wide selection of tables and charts illustrating the pace of China's military modernization over the past two decades.

Published by the CSIS Press (Center for Strategic and International Studies), and authored in part by Anthony Cordesman - who has written widely on military modernization and strategic studies issues focused on the Middle East and elsewhere - Chinese Military Modernization provides the larger picture to China's military recapitalization in the early 21st century.

At the time that this volume was published, the pace and focus of China's military modernization had become unmistakable.  China's military has been transformed from a force structure based purely around quantity, to one that has embraced modern technology and force multipliers.  These trends are clearly documented in this text.

What is lacking from this summary, of course, are the details behind individual weapons programs, training programs, and the capabilities that these translate into.  Cordesman's study was not intended to provide that level of granularity.  What it does do, however, is to provide the larger, strategic picture, documenting the rapid modernization of China's military that has alarmed many in the West and in the Far East - in some cases with due cause and in others without reference to the region's historic realities.

All told, Chinese Military Modernization provides an important reference for trends that continue to this day.

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