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Publication: China Brief Volume: 20 Issue: 14 By: Roderick Lee Currently, only limited analytical discussion exists regarding the command authorities over China’s land-based ballistic and cruise missile inventory. Much of the discourse surrounding the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF)—the military service that operates most of China’s land-based precision strike systems—focuses on nuclear command and control. Further discussions regarding the PLARF’s conventional land-based ballistic and cruise missile systems are limited, and make only vague references as to how the PLA is working to integrate PLARF units into the theater command structure—without going into detail about the major obstacles that preclude full integration of the PLARF.
This article makes the case that PLA theater commands almost certainly have clearly defined operational control authorities over some of the PLARF’s conventional missile force. This conclusion is based on the evidence of command authorities granted to certain PLARF bases; the integration of missile operations into theater joint operations command structure; and indications from PLA press outlets that PLARF units are subordinate to the theater command operational structure.