Friday, March 25, 2005

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

Strategypage has an interesting post about a Chinese airmobile division:

March 25, 2005: China has, in addition to its three airborne divisions, a division of 11,000 airmobile troops. The airborne soldiers belong to the air force, while the airmobile division is all army. And a strange unit it is. The division consists of two brigades, and two separate battalions. The units is equipped for urban combat, riot control and movement by air. The airmobile division is considered the most elite in the army, with the troops being paid five times the normal military pay. In other words, if there is a problem in any city, with demonstrators, riots and the like, the airmobile division can quickly get reliable, well trained and effective troops on the scene to deal with the problem. Each of the two 4,000 man airmobile brigades have one mechanized (using wheeled armored vehicles) and four infantry (trucks) battalions, plus a light artillery battalion, an engineer battalion and some other support units. The two independent battalions have 500 men each, organized into one mechanized infantry company, one infantry company, one reconnaissance company and some support troops. The brigades take turns being in Hong Kong, or at another base in Shenzhen. The two battalions rotate between Macao and Zhuhai. The divisions name translates as "Urban Light Cavalry."

Urban light cavalry?

Call me skeptical, but the People's Armed Police, the primary units for internal control, have been reinforced by taking the dreg infantry divisions of the PLA and putting "police" patches on their uniforms. When China wanted to slaughter thousands in 1989, they sent in heavy armor to support the infantry. Why five times the pay for a single division? I'm to believe that a single airmobile division is intended for riot control? In a country of 1.3 billion? Troops at five times the pay of the ordinary soldier? And that the Chinese decided that a riot control unit should be airmobile rather than using, oh, roads or railroads to move them around in China? And that they should haul around light artillery, too? And engineers? And they decided to base it down around Hong Kong? Oh, sure, should there be a problem up in Peking they'll just hop on the Hong Kong-Peking shuttle and fly on up.

Let's look at it from a capabilities point of view. Motorized and mechanized infantry. Engineers. Light artillery. Airmobile. Based across from Taiwan.

Call me suspicious, but wouldn't a follow-on force able to come into airfields near Taipei that are captured by China's three parachute divisions be really useful? I mean, a loyal and elite division of 12 maneuver battalions able to storm an important urban center wouldn't be an ideal mission? Parachutists could take airfields but couldn't move on Taipei on foot. A motorized infantry unit could move on the capital.

Look, they could call it a name that translates as "Don't Even Think That This Might Be Airlifted to Taiwan to Take Over That Rebel Province" Division.

That unit is designed to be an elite strike force for a Chinese inside-out regime change on Taiwan.

Riot control, indeed.