A rather interesting new video began to circulate in China on August 1, 2018, the nation’s Army Day. Here is the video “I am a Chinese Soldier” in all of its nationalistic glory:
There is no English version of this video, however, I think that you can generally get the idea from the scenes presented. Fortunately, the fine folks at National Interest have translated the narration for us:
“Who am I?
I am the one the mother cannot reach at the door.
I am the wife who is reluctant to hang up the phone.
I am a stranger who dares not approach in the eyes of my son.
I am the concern and pride of my loved ones.
Peace behind me, war in front of me.
Pick up the steel gun, we must let go of the children.
Put on the military uniform, we must give up comfort and ease.
Fighting the battlefield, the character of the man.
I am a Chinese soldier.
I am a soldier of the people.
I am the guardian of a good life.”
I would have to say that the line “Peace behind me, war in front of me” is the most sobering part of the narration; it clearly states that, from the Chinese perspective, war is inevitable. The video which clearly shows off the nation’s high tech weaponry also outlines the sacrifices that members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will make as they serve their nation and their people.
According to Global Firepower, China is ranked number three out of 136 nations considered to be a military power, following the United States in first place and Russia in second place. Here are a few key statistics about China’s military and its ultimate manpower potential, a key part of any war:
– 2.183 million active personnel
– 510,000 reserve personnel
– 2.693 million total military personnel
– 19.55 million reaching military age
– 619 million fit-for-service
– 750 million available for service
Let’s compare this to the United States:
– 1.282 million active personnel
– 801,220 reserve personnel
– 2.083 million total military personnel
– 4.22 million reaching military age
– 120.025 million fit-for-service
– 145.215 million available for service
– 1.014 million active personnel
– 2.573 reserve personnel
– 3.586 million total military personnel
– 1.355 million reaching military age
– 47 million fit-for-service
– 70 million available for service
Obviously, in a long war with high rates of attrition, the nation with the most human resources to draw from is more likely to win if all else is equal (or more-or-less equal). Given America’s history of a shrinking military when measured in terms of manpower, this could prove to be yet another problem if the United States decides to declare war against one (or more, God help us) of its current headline enemies as shown here:
Here is an interesting quote from John Spencer, a former infantry company commander in Iraq, about the servicemen that he was forced to lead:
“In 2008, when I was an infantry company commander in charge of over 140 soldiers in Baghdad, I saw firsthand how the declining number of volunteers is hurting the military. Thirty-six of my men were forced to deploy even though their terms of service were up, a controversial military policy known as “stop loss” or the “back door draft.” To meet the bare minimum number of soldiers, my unit took men who were medically unfit to fight. I had soldiers that could not leave our compound because they were medically prohibited from wearing their body armor or classified as mentally unfit. I had soldiers taking anti-depression, sleeping, anxiety and other drugs. I had a mentally unstable private viciously attack his sergeant, causing lifelong damage, and multiple other problem soldiers that detracted from the combat performance of my unit. This was symptomatic throughout the Army.”
He also notes that the current difficulties facing the United States in its attempts to assemble a full force dates back to 1973 when the draft was eliminated.
Under the current reality, it will be interesting to see if the United States adopts a divide and conquer strategy with China and Russia, partnering up with one of its two current foes since, at the very least, it is clearly out-manned and is increasingly under threat technologically. Given that any war with either foe will most like be fought in foreign territory, the United States faces the ever present logistical problems of recruiting and transporting sufficient military personnel into the theatre of operations in a very short timeframe to push back any moves by opposing forces.
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