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China's Emerging Military

A new report studies how the Chinese are developing their military in response to America.

3:00 PM, Apr 19, 2006 • By CHRISTIAN LOWE
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* "Network-Centric Warfare" strategy: A Pentagon-invented term, network-centric warfare (NCW) envisions weapons systems and sensors tied together with a computerized network of communications and intelligence gear that will give a commander a wider and deeper view of the battlefield. It would allow for rapid and complex decision-making in combat, helping to overwhelm an adversary's ability to react. China's development of similar technology and operational concepts could threaten America's major military advantage and put some of its most important assets--such as aircraft carriers--at great risk. But the Rand researchers admit China is a long way from matching the United States in this kind of complex technical challenge.

THOUGH THE STUDY paints an alarming picture of Chinese military progress and a dogged focus on countering American military advances, the Rand researchers admit America has one major military advantage: people.

"Ironically, a confrontation between two technologically advanced, network-centric militaries will likely reduce the importance of technology in favor of people and their ability to make rapid but accurate decisions with incomplete or overwhelming amounts of information," Rand notes. "In such a contest, volunteer military personnel drawn from an open, educated society like that of the United States would appear to have the advantage over a stove-piped military embedded in an authoritarian state. But the blinding pace of social, cultural and technological change in China strongly suggests that this conclusion will not always remain true."

Christian Lowe is a senior writer for Army Times Publishing Company and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.