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2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Scale,Composition and Force Mobilisation

People’s Republic of China (PRC) held award giving ceremony for the winners of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and Para-olympics in the Great Hall of the People in the early hours on 29 September 2008. The Chinese President honoured organizations that went into making of the success story. It was addressed by both the Chinese President Hu Jintao and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The Chinese leaders called the events as “dream coming true”. While it is natural for the Chinese leadership to celebrate the occasion, it is important to look into the contribution of the Chinese armed forces in the whole gamut.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games formally opened on 08th Aug 08 at the National Stadium in Beijing amidst chilling apprehensions of terrorist attack by one or more militant outfits, particularly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president and Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC honorary president, had applauded the gala showcase as being “historic” and capable of advancing the “Olympic Goals”. It concluded on 24th Aug 08 with identical pomp and show. In Beijing’s perspective, it was but a “show piece” of full seven years of toil of all segments of the Chinese state, particularly the Chinese Armed Forces.

Involvement of armed forces in Olympic Games is not something peculiar to the PRC. The differences this time did yet exist in the scale, composition and dimensions of mobilization. Insulating safety and security of the participants of Games and different other soft targets against the onslaught of miscreants has tood out as the primary rationale. Beijing had one innocuous and yet quite poignant military objective. The occasion gave plenty of leeway for the Chinese nation to test emergency response capabilities and potentials of its armed forces, which, in turn, held the prospect of indirectly enhancing force projection potentials. This has relevance in Chinese context as the PRC is poised to prepare its armed forces to fight a limited war under high technological conditions. Notwithstanding this, there was also an unstated political objective to win the confidence of participating powers in the backdrop of different sorts of glitch to the avowed objectives of the Olympic Games.

The paper aims at exploring the involvement of the Chinese Armed Forces in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. in particular at attempting an assessment of relative contribution of different PLA units and crysallization of exposure effects on fighting potentials of such armed force units. For this, open source materials, particularly the news items carried by the on-line editions of the Chinese official mouth pieces, such as Jiefangjun Bao, Renmin Ribao, Jinrizhongguo and the like, serve as the base.

The frame work of the study embodies a peep into the command and control system, threat perceptions , force projection and deployment, the Charter of Responsibilities and drills, and last but not the least, on-the ground achievements. There are at the same time limitations of the study, which include the access and veracity of the open source material, the mainstay for the narratives and analysis.

Command and Control System

The Command and Control structure of the Chinese armed forces, engaged in varied security of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, held much of the characteristics, reminiscent of national mobilization of troops to fight all out land, sea and air battle of one or more war zones. The People’s Liberation army (PLA) and the Armed Police Force (PAPF) apparently had been the mainstay. Besides providing security cover, the two were engaged in a dozen Olympic support works; some of the prominent ones included construction of key projects, personnel support, environment protection and beautification of the Beijing city. For operational decisions, the ‘Military Bureau’ for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Security happened to be the top command organ in charge of security; It had but to operate in tandem to both the ‘Beijing Olympic Games Security Command Center’ and the ‘Headquarters of the General Staff of the PLA’. Beijing Olympic Games Security Command Center had, meanwhile, set up ‘International Liaison Department’ to take care of information needs regarding multinational terror organizations. However, in matters of policy decisions, the pyramid constituted of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the Central Military Commission (CMC) and President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The service headquarters of PLA Ground Forces, PLA Navy and PLA Air Force had established a Joint Inter-service Security Unit, which operated in close coordination with the security units of each of the participating formation and/or unit. Nonetheless, the inter service security operated as the go between with the Beijing Olympic Games Command and the Headquarters of the General Staff of the PLA through the ‘Military Bureau’ , for two- way communication of instructions and feed back on developments.

Under the comprehensive security plan of the Beijing Olympics, the PLA units were responsible for air protection of all arenas, and maritime safety of coastal venues. However, the PLA security units were to deal with mostly non-traditional threats during the Games, particularly biochemical and nuclear terror attacks. The units were simultaneously required to help the police and armed police forces to handle terror attacks as well as rescue operations in disaster or accident situations. Notwithstanding, many other PLA units were to remain on alert in the air or at sea to ensure the safety of the Beijing Olympics. They were also required to provide security for the equestrian arena in Hong Kong if the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government requested. The ‘Military Bureau’ for Olympic Security remained the top command organ for the PAPF units. Dual Command and Control of the State Council through relevant department, particularly the ministry of Public Security and the CMC at the top , was excercised through PAPF General Headquarters, for the purpose of implementing major policy and operational decisions. The PAPF units in the field for security and other support Olympic tasks adhered to the tenets of joint operation command system . The system was trial tested, as it was literally same which functioned during the course of disaster management, the latest being the Wenquan earthquake of May 12, 2008. The unquestioned supreme control of the CMC remained the guiding force for achieving smooth coordination and unity of purpose.

All said and done, in ground level operations, the Command and Control system of the Chinese armed forces had features, long and short of a ‘sandwich’ model. It was again not some thing exclusive of Chinese approach. The Military Bureau and the Beijing Olympic Games security command center had sent military delegations to learn from Australian and Greek military experiences in protecting Olympic Games and observe security drills for the Commonwealth Games. There were also some Command and Control elements in the Ground Force, Navy,Air Force and even in the Strategic Rocket Force which operated through the four General Headquarters and the Seven Military Area Commands; the latter had always been independent in exercise of leadership over their units under their commands- regular divisions/brigades and reserve divisions. As against such bewildering assembly of elements, no foreign model can be compared with what the Chinese did to ensure Olympic security. The Chinese model had but to be eclectic in form and spirit. .

Threat Perception

The PLA and its paramilitary cohort PAPF have played a supporting, but a key, role in holding the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Seen in this perspective, the scale, composition and dimension of their involvement look quite stupefying. It calls for a peep into the compelling factors.

While the Olympic games had been a civilian preserve in letter and spirit, the armed forces too have always had their roles – protecting security concerning the games. In the background of Munich tragedy of September 5, 1972 and, the explosion in the Olympic Park in the US city of Atlanta in 1996, besides the shadow of 9/11, had led 2004 Athens Olympics to raise the threshold of first-degree combat readiness. Most Olympic host countries in the past had called upon their armed forces to handle otherwise difficult tasks. Way back in February 1952 in Oslo Olympic Games, the Norwegian Government harnessed the services of armed forces to transport snow in the shade and ravines to competition trails as much expected snow fall of the season eluded the organizers of the Winter Olympic Games there. Much the same, the Austrian Government pressed the armed forces into service to deliver 20000 ice bricks by truck to the competition field of Bob event, pave 40000 cubic meters of snow to the competition field of alpine skiing and lay in stocks 20000 cubic meters of snow for spare use during 1964 Innsbruck Olympic Games.

The Chinese case stands on a different pedestal. The armed forces in the PRC, unlike most others, particularly the PLA, shares political power, much of which has to be understood in the backdrop of evolution and development of existing political order. It must not be confused and ever compared with the political roles of the service personnel in a parliamentary democracy as a citizen with voting rights. The PLA is a partner and not an instrument of the Chinese state. It is straightway responsible to the CPC outfits, where the convergence with the state apparatus visibly takes place through the triad of the office of the General Secretary of the CPC, Chairman of the CMC and the Presidency of the PRC in the hands of one entity. The rationale for all pervasive involvement of the Chinese armed forces in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is thus little far from being natural.

The framework of involvement of the Chinese armed forces in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games virtually evolved under an array of scenario, something unprecedented and something exclusive to China. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) prepared an action plan, called “2002 Beijing Olympics Action Plan”, where it promised to give the Chinese people and the world at large a “Green”, “High-tech” and “People’s” Olympic. The backdrop of each of these promises held out a Damocles sword unless satisfactorily accomplished. For long, the western media kept raising the issue of ghastly pollution, the sources of which were, incidentally not just local. It had quite large regional ramification. While the BOCOG created Environmental Management System (EMS) and brought to bear upon a lot many institutional frameworks to take care of the challenge, the task was hard to manage until the armed forces could extend hard to find manpower.

The PLA and the PAPF, especially the Beijing-based troops, undertook the “Green Olympic” mission and acted as the shock troops in fulfilling the job. Its task pertained to greening the Olympic stadiums and gymnasiums as well as the selected areas, and bringing under control the sandstorm sources in the outlying areas of Beijing. Such selected areas included Afforestation of more than 220 selected segments of the Chang’an Avenue and the Airport Expressway as well as 40-odd large parks like the Olympic Forest Park. The job called for application of technology that played a fair amount of supportive role to “Green Olympic”. It included landscaping, beautification, water-proof panel roofing, geothermal heating and solar energy collection for heating purpose, heat protection of exterior wall and sundry other tasks. While it is difficult to assess the contribution of the Chinese armed forces in promoting “Green Olympic” in monetary terms, it could possibly equal the budgeted expenditure of over US$17 billion by the Beijing Municipality Government.

Presenting “High-tech” Olympics, the second mission, had put a relatively high demand on the scientific and technological manpower and institutions of the country. It had many aspects, some of which lay beyond the civil domain. 145 days long Olympic Torch relay, beginning 21st March 2008, was to be taken to the altitude of over 8844.43 meters besides covering 28 foreign and 70 domestic cities. The Chinese armed forces contributed its technological mite to the accomplishment of the task in more than one way. Notwithstanding, in April 2006, the General Armaments Department of the PLA assigned a technological cooperative and support team of 40-odd people in charge of the overall technological production in the operating center of the opening and closing ceremonies. Six major Chinese defence industries such as spaceflight, aviation, shipbuilding, nuclear industry, weaponry and military electronics brought into full play their technological advantages and actively took part in developing scientific items for the Beijing Olympic Games, and made more than 40 important scientific achievements for the games.

The proposition of holding ” People’s Olympic” envisaged insulating the arena of the Games and other soft targets against security breach, much less terror attacks to foster confidence of the participants and spectators. It was critical for the BOCOG as it did not want to give excuse to quite a few important participant nations to abstain under the cloak of security threats. The Chinese had a covert political motive. While securing the Olympics through an array of political, diplomatic and security measures, it wanted to keep up pressure against Uyghur nationalist movement in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Whether real or just perceived, this threat perception was behind the unprecedented force projection.

Force Projection and Deployment

The “Support Olympic” mission of the Chinese armed forces involved a large scale deployment. It constituted both regular and reserved PLA units and PAPF units. Over 100000 PLA troops and PAPF personnel were first engaged in providing security cover to Olympic torch relay passing through different parts of the country. They were drawn from one or the other seven Military Area Commands and PAPF HQ in one or the other provinces/ autonomous regions. As the events in 37 Games venues in Beijing and six other cities started after due inaugurals, 100000 PLA troops and 100000 PAPF personnel together with 60000 civil volunteers provided security cover to 10700 athletes, 80 heads of states, 200 top national and international celebrities.

The PLA regular and reserve forces were largely drawn from the Beijing Military Area Command (BMAC), Tianjin Garrison, Shenyang Military Area Command (SMAC), Jinan Military Area Command (JMAC) and Nanjing Military Area Command (NMAC) for the final act. It also involved PLA AF units and PLA Navy units. This was besides the PLA Strategic Rocket Force and host of PLA Special Forces contributing their mite. PLA troops under the command and control of different Military Area Commands as much as PLAF personnel under the command and control of different PAPF HQ in provinces/ autonomous regions provided security support to torch relay. Notwithstanding, it also involved the technical and scientific workforce of six major Chinese defence industries such as spaceflight, aviation, shipbuilding, nuclear industry, weaponry and military electronics, who made more than 40 important scientific achievements in developing different precision security related equipments.

The involvement of the armed forces, both the PLA and PAPF encompassed a large array of areas. Table-1 presents a tell-tale story of the involvement of 297323 PLA troops and PAPF personnel, which, inter alia, shows the Chinese PLA and PAPF calling much of the shots. This is inconclusive as substantially large number of PLA troops were otherwise engaged in helping the BOCOG to accomplish the Chinese cherished dream of “ Green”, High-tech” and “People’s” Olympic.


Olympic Tasks and Distribution Pattern of PLA/ PAPF Manpower(Source- Chinese media 3 to 25 August 2008)

Sr No. No of troops Formation/ Units affiliation Task/ Mission 1. 10000 PLA and PAPF Officers and Men Beijing Military Area Command/ PAPF Beijing Contingent Service Support Mission during the Opening and Closing Ceremony 2. 9000 PLA Officers and Men Beijing Military Area Command and host other units. Constituted part of 14000 performers during the Opening and Closing ceremony 3. 1030 Cadet Officers Dalian Naval Academy Ceremony Guides 4. 600 Officers and Men PAPF Beijing Contingent Fire Works 5. 300 Officers and Men PAPF Beijing Contingent Carry Flag during the Opening and Closing Ceremony 6. 203 Officers and Men Beijing Military Area Command Band Unit Music during the ushering of guests and participants 7. 36 Officers and Men Beijing Military Area Command 36 performances during the Opening and Closing Ceremony 8. 1000 Officers and Men Beijing Mil area Command Packing of 100000 gift packages for the VIPs / celebrities attending the Opening and Closing Ceremony 9. 499 Officers and Men (Technical Personnel) General Armament Department Operation of different Eqpts during the Opening and Closing Ceremony 10. 440 officers and Men PAPF Beijing Contingent Hooking up stage properties; disassembling and changing the stage(s) and other supports. 11. 167 officers and Men(Technical Personnel) General Staff HQ Technical support foe Satellite TV Relay 12. 30 Officers and Men(Technical Personnel) Communication Department, General Staff Department Basic Communication Support for the various levels of Command institutions 13. 100000 Officers and Men PAPF Units of Provinces/ Autonomous Regions Security to Olympic Torch Relay for 100-odd days 14. 100000 Officers and men Beijing Military Area Command, Tianjin Garrison, Shenyang Military Area Command, Jinan Military Area Command, and Nanjing Military Area Command. Security Cover to cities and venues of the Olympic Games, sensitive installations, susceptible to terror attacks and miscellaneous tasks. 15. 34000 Officers and Men Different PLA units including Army Aviation, Engineering, anti-Chemical, Medical Services. Security barrier against different sets of perceived terror threats 16. 40000 Officers and Men Militia and Reservist from their respective units in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Qingdao, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao. Security 17. 18 Frogmen South China sea Fleet Underwater checks

The Chinese media has been a little apologetic in explaining out the involvement of armed forces in such a large scale. It got to cite vulnerability against the perceived terror threats. The political and diplomatic stake along with the demographic factor in the geographical distribution of the venues of the Games made much of the differences. ‘Olympic Green’ task involved the National Stadium, which witnessed the Opening and Closing ceremony and over 90000 spectators on the occasion including heads of states from 80 countries and over 200 top celebrities. There were then nine other venues located in the Olympic Greens. The Chinese had thus, great stake in the security of the ‘Olympic Greens’. This was why the PLA Strategic Rocket Force had deployed two nuclear warheads capable surface-to-air missiles in the Olympic Green area. Haidian and Chaoyang districts with eight venues each, held importance in the security fortification priority in the deployment of PLA troops and PAPF personnel. The same principle held well in respect of militia and civil volunteers in Beijing. While Shijingshan and Shunyi districts of Beijing housed two venues each, there was Fengtai district had just one venue.

The PLA AF units entrusted with the security of the host cities of the Olympic Games had cast a protective screen in the air as the PLA Ground Forces were to guard against on-ground intrusions of any denomination. They had worked out command procedures and action guidelines for handling possible skyjacking, and small low altitude and low speed flying targets. Earlier, an Aviation Division, affiliated to Beijing Military Area Command sent out fix fighter aircraft to hold an exercise, pending live action during the Olympic Games. Nonetheless, a flight testing base of the Beijing PLA AF Command had worked out 23 schemes and preplans in the light of nature and requirement of the Olympic Air Security Mission. The PLA AF units were to respond to specific intelligence geared through the elaborate defence intelligence system. The PLA Navy units had equally arduous task to insulate sea targets of terror attacks to the venues of the Games in Tianjin, Qingdao and Qinhuangdao. In the bargain, it had but to set up multilayer observation and defence system for different sets of tasks such as maritime patrol and surveillance, underwater security inspection and detection, on water and search and rescue, and emergencies under different denominations. Over all responsibility was entrusted to North China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy. Notwithstanding, the special forces, comprising of quite a specialized service arms, such as anti-chemical, engineer and medical units sought to provide needed emergency services of all types. There were mobile forces to render rescue and relief services.

The dynamics of the use of defence industries was necessitated per se in the context of various technological and security odds. The PRC, for example decided to light up the Olympic Torch at an altitude of 8848 meters on the Mount Qomolangma. The terrain, altitude and environment much less the security concern stood at the back of involving the armed forces. The Olympic torch and the torch bearers had to weather special environment of high altitude, low temperature and pressure and windstorm on the Mount Qomolangma. The R&D Team of the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. responded to the call to meet an array of technological challenges in the design of the Olympic torch. The Flight test Institute of the China Aviation Industry First Group Corporation shouldered the responsibility of taking aerial photos as the torch relay of the Olympic flame onto the Mount Qomolangma. This aero-photographic team had earlier carried out three test flights in advance to survey the peripheral landscape, offering powerful basis to ascertain climbing routes and taking precious pictures for carrying the torch to the top of the mountain. Besides, service personnel, belonging to different Military Area commands, accordingly contributed their mite both in the design and relay of the torch. In sensitive areas, particularly in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the PLA and PAPF units managed much of the show.

The venues of the Games were spread over to some of the difficult to predict meteorological zones. No.23 Office of the Second Institute of the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. and the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences jointly developed wind profile radar to facilitate meteorological support in the Olympic Sailing Regatta. Quite importantly, the Xi’an Space Star Technology Co., Ltd. offered a powerful commanding platform by means of mobile satellite communication technology.

Security of the Games called upon the organizers of the Games to look beyond physical domains. The China Institute of Atomic Energy Science offered NQR explosive detection system, capable of detecting any explosive in a rapid, effective and accurate manner without opening the case. The system was considered quite safe as it did not emit any radiant harmful to human bodies and the environment. The institute also developed three types of detection systems for explosives in channel, on vehicle or in mail, which can be used in security check for baggage, suitcase and mail.

Helicopters produced by the Changfei Company of the China Aviation Industry Second Group Corporation were used for photographing the competition, security monitoring, ensuring the smooth progress of events and news report. The Harbin Dong’an Auto Engine Co., Ltd. committed two latest produced 3,000-kilowatt gas turbine emergency power supply vehicles developed with the technology of aero-generator for ensuring emergency power supply for the communication network of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Charter of Responsibilities and Drills

The horizon of force projection and deployment of the Chinese armed forces as such was basically decided in the light of charter of responsibilities, cast largely in tune with the threat perception. It was again to cater the three principal objectives of showcasing a “Green”, “High-tech” and “People’s” Olympic by a surging Chinese nation in the comity of world powers. While PLA had to deal with unconventional threats, PAPF units were entrusted with conventional ones.

The responsibility areas of the PLA Ground Forces, PLA Navy and PLA AF had geographical dimension even as they were jointly and severely responsible for over all achievements. The Specifics of the responsibilities were as under: (a) Ensuring Air Space safety of Beijing and all co-host cities of the Games. (b) Guaranteeing Maritime Sea Safety of venues in coastal areas. (c) Assisting the Police forces and the PAPF in preventing potential nuclear, biological and chemical weapon attacks and providing support in the disposal of explosives. (d) Organising emergency rescue and disaster relief. (e) Offering assistance in border control.

(f) Giving assistance in intelligence and information security.

(g) Assisting in any other task including thwarting public demonstrations and petitions.

The PAPF units had basically 12 security tasks. They included: (a) Guarding 10 Olympic venues. (b) Supporting large scale ceremonial activities such as, the Opening and Closing ceremonies. (c) Supporting Olympic cultural activities. (d) Preventing potential nuclear, biological and chemical weapon attacks. (e) Performig peripheral Security guard duties for the air ports used by the participants of the Olympic Games. (f) Carrying out On-site Guard duties of sensitive points. (g) Guarding special aircrafts, used by VVIPs. (h) Providing assistance to the PLA and the Police in their specific areas of responsibilities. (i) Performing miscellaneous voluntary tasks such as medical support to the Olympic Village.

The PLA Ground Forces, the PLA Navy and the PLA AF had as many as 26 drills just before the inset of the events besides several epochs of joint and individual training as much as drill sessions, particularly in 2006, 2007 and 2008. They had compiled 52 outlines on security measures at Olympic venues, including fighting terrorism and collecting intelligence, and 500 concrete implementation plans. The PAPF units did as well have extensive training and drills in the past three years. While the thrust of the security training in 2006 consisted of basic of security, the training programmes in 2008 were most intensive. It had taken leaf from foreign experiences.

Just two days ahead of the Opening Ceremony on 08 Aug 08, the PLA held a military exercise, dubbed “Joint 2008”, in Northeast China’s Shenyang Province. It was commanded by Major General Ma Yiming. It involved land-land, land-air, air-sea, and electromagnetic confrontations. The military objectives of the drill included testing “synergistic command and battle capability of the PLA Ground Forces, the PLA Navy and PLA AF units”, taking part in the “Support Olympic Mission”. It was evidently a cross- regional exercise, which spanned an area from the Shandong Peninsula and Liaodong peninsula. Jinan Military Area Command had contributed 10 Squadrons from the three forces. The weapon system used in the drill included latest fighter aircraft, destroyer, frigate and missiles.

Almost simultaneously on 05th Aug 2008, Shenyang Military Area Command held Olympic security drill in Shenyang City on 05 Aug 2008, where the troops used a number of advanced weapons such as the “ultrahigh pressure water fog cutting fire extinguisher”, the fully-armed “explosive removing robot”, the molar detector with a sharp sense of smell, and the infrared visual detector with sharp eyes. Interestingly, Shenyang Military Area Command had invited over 200 serving and retired senior PLA Officers to witness the drill and asked to forward suggestions.

Nanjing Military Area Command did as well conduct exercise with live ammunitions to test capability of officers and men to respond in real time terror attack. The participants used mortars, anti-tank guided missiles and rocket launchers. An armoured regiment and its Battalion managed the show. Earlier, a Division of a Group Army under Nanjing Military Area Command had held a simulated confrontational exercise in complicated electromagnetic environment, in which officers and men braved violent storms and heavy enemy fire.

6 Armoured Division of the Beijing Military Area Command held drill in the full glare of domestic and international media persons to thwart major terror attack with heavy weapon system. The Division boasts best of the Chinese made tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces. It has strength of 8000 officers and men. The Division had major responsibility of security to National Stadium, which hosted the Opening and Closing ceremony.

Army Aviation Regiment under PLA General Staff HQ carried out a drill in Yanshan Mountain in North China. The drill was commanded by the Regimental Commander Cai Yougu. As many as three gunship were deployed in the drill to subdue the terror attack in down town Beijing. In another drill, under the Command of Bai Zhibin, the chemical weapon, used by the terror outfit was rendered useless besides managing the resultant chaos due toxicant explosion of gas pipelines. The drill tested 20 plus rescue subjects.

An Olympic security field exercise was held on the sand beach adjacent to the competition venue of the Olympic sailing events in Qingdao, in which 12 new-type equipment made debuts in half an hour. According to Huang Weichu, head of the nuclear, chemical and biological emergency handling team and director of the disease control center of the Jinan Military Area Command, the employment of the new-type equipment raised the efficiency of reconnaissance and inspection by 83%.

A Frigate Group of a maritime garrison under South China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy held Formation Tactical Training in a complicated electromagnetic setting on its way back to the base for ensuring the security of the Olympic events in Hong Kong. Earlier, a Submarine Chaser Group of the same South China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy organized its submarine chaser formation to intensify the training on several mission oriented subjects in the sea area with strong winds and high waves so as to temper the troops under complex operational conditions.

On Ground Achievements

The Chinese armed forces had visibly taken full precautions in mobilizing its forces to all eventualities of major and minor incidents. The force projection was perhaps disproportionately high in comparison and contrast to the potentials and capabilities of the Chinese terror groups. Adjudged against the charter of responsibilities, the Chinese PLA and PAPF units acquitted quite well in their operational tasks. The PLA AF had set protective umbrella against intrusions of the air space of Beijing and six other host cities. In the same vein, the PLA Navy, particularly the North China Sea Fleet and South China Sea Fleet had made the sea routes to the Olympic Games in coastal regions impregnable to terror designs. The job of the PLA Ground Forces and PAPF units to secure the venues of the Games in different locations in Beijing and other cities was fairly arduous. But for one and odd incidents, it all went off peaceful.

Foreign media reports had suggested that the security arrangements were tight. The reports variously suggested that the host cities of the Games were in a state of seize, little different from a martial law scenario. Considering the stake, particularly from the political angles, the Chinese could have had no better solution.

In sum, the PLA and PAPF units, engaged in the tasks to realise the dream of “Green”, High-tech” and “People’s” Olympics and Paralympics, have reason to bask under the glory; they have been instrumental to giving China a political and diplomatic shot in its arms. What should not be missed is that the military drills carried out at different points of time since 2006, have certainly added additional teeth to the PLA’s operational capability to respond to conventional and unconventional challenges.

( The writer, Dr Sheo Nandan Pandey, is an expert in defence and security matters based in Faridabad,India. He had held advisory positions in the ministries of Defence and Human resources Development of the Government of India. Views expressed in the article are his own).

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