The US Department of Defense (DoD) has claimed that China’s self-assessment of its war readiness reflects “genuine anxieties” about its military preparedness for actual combat.
In an annual report to Congress, the Pentagon revealed that Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) routinely conducts war readiness evaluations to highlight military shortcomings.
It allegedly uses phrases such as the “Five Incapables,” “Two Incompatibles,” “Two Big Gaps,” and “Three Whethers” to guide force-wide modernization efforts.
According to the DoD, China’s “five incapables” highlights the inability of Chinese commanders to make appropriate operational decisions, properly deploy forces, and manage unexpected war situations.
It also represents significant shortcomings in the military’s training and education systems, as some military leaders are “inadequately prepared” for modern warfare.
“Although PLA writings do not specify how widespread the “Five Incapables” are, PLA media outlets have consistently raised them. One outside expert has noted this may indicate the PLA lacks confidence in its proficiency to execute its own operational concepts,” the Pentagon report noted.
The Pentagon claims that China is concerned about not meeting the requirements for winning a local war under informed conditions.
The PLA is also reportedly worried about not being well-prepared to carry out war “at the new stage of the new century.”
The report pointed out that defense officials in Beijing are keenly aware that its military has not experienced combat in decades nor fought with its current capabilities and organizational structure.
“PLA leaders and state media frequently call on the force to remedy the ‘peacetime disease’ that manifests in the form of what it characterizes as lax training attitudes and practices that are viewed as hindering combat readiness,” according to the Pentagon.
‘Two Big Gaps’ and ‘Three Whethers’
In assessing military war readiness, the defense department said China uses the phrase “Two Big Gaps” to highlight enduring concerns about its true fighting capabilities despite massive investments in modernization.
It is also reportedly worried about its ability to meet national security requirements.
Regarding the “Three Whethers,” the report stated that the PLA is concerned about whether or not it can maintain the Chinese Communist Party’s “absolute leadership.”
There are doubts about whether the Chinese army can fight victoriously when needed and whether its commanders are competent enough to lead forces and command in war.