CIRA China analyst Joe McReynolds and former SOSi analyst LeighAnn Ragland-Luce authored a chapter in the recent conference volume The People in the PLA 2.0 regarding the PLA’s human capital ecosystem for network and information warfare:
In recent years, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has carried out an ambitious reform agenda across nearly every sector of its armed forces and defense industry. The overarching aim of these reforms is to build a force capable of winning “informatized” wars through kinetic and information operations supported by a modernized command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure. In late 2015, these reforms culminated in the creation of the PLA Strategic Support Force (解放军战略支援部队) (SSF) as a new information warfare force operating independently of the PLA’s traditional services.
Examining the human capital ecosystem that underlies the PLA’s development, acquisition, and operational deployment of network weapons offers an opportunity to better understand China’s information warfare capabilities. The unique characteristics of the information battlespace have arguably made the human dimension more central to understanding China’s development of network warfare capabilities than is the case with the traditional land, air, sea, and nuclear domains.