PRC “Science of Military Strategy” on Preparing for Future Wars

The Science of Military Strategy is taught in Chinese military academies.  This section, while not surprising, is intriguing.   China hasn’t fought wars for a long time – the last time was the border war with Vietnam which didn’t go too well.  The Chinese media almost never mentions it.   How to prepare for war without recent experience is one of the central questions of this passage.

The Federation of American Scientists introduces this book on their website.

The Science of Military Strategy (2013 edition) 战略学 P. 26 – 27

First of all, students of strategy and for decision-makers who have been living in a long period of peace must be good at learning from past wars. “Every military principle or military theory is something that our predecessors or contemporaries have devised based on the conclusions that they have drawn about the wars of the past. Past wars provide us bloody lessons. We need to study them seriously.” ② [Collected Military Writings of Mao Zedong, Chinese edition, Vol. 1, p. 701] We must root ourselves in the present and look to the future. We should look at the wars of the past with an eye to discerning the path of development. We should take as a reference point what has been useful and avoid repeating the errors of the past. We should discard outmoded experience. We must not allow ourselves to become intoxicated with the glories of our past victories. We must realize that our past victories can become the seeds of our future defeats.

Secondly, we must be good at studying the contemporary wars of other countries. Since during peacetime we have had very little direct operational experience of war, it becomes even more important than ever to pay close attention to getting indirect operational experience by studying the wars of other countries. We need to take the way that other countries today go to war as a reference point as we determine our own military strategy. From this experience of other countries, we will be able to learn about the basic characteristics and trends in the development of the forms of warfare, the modes of war fighting, and methods of fighting wars. Thus we will be able to discover and draw conclusions from the most important warfighting principles and principles for directing a battle. From this, factoring in our own national circumstances and the characteristics of our military, we will be able to make specific plans for the future wars that we may face and guide the modernization of our forces. The main motivation for the Chinese military in 1993 in setting down its “military strategy and overall policies for the new era” was that we could see after the First Gulf War that the age of high tech warfare was coming.

We imitate the enemy in order to establish dominance over the enemy. A military strategy is a concrete focused plan. A military strategy cannot be set by a dilettante or an armchair strategist. During peacetime we seek to grab an advantageous position. While at war we seek victory in struggle with the enemy. Setting a military strategy requires aiming to understand reality and potential adversaries. Approach as a student the task of conscientiously polishing military theories, military systems, military capabilities and battle characteristics. Studying and researching the nature of the adversary is not studying for the sake of studying or doing research for the sake of research. The object is to be able to bring the adversary under control. “Reach a thorough understanding of all the characteristics of the enemy and of oneself” in order to understand the principles and methods for subduing the enemy in battle. On one hand we need to study the strong points of the adversary and in peacetime learn from them as an example. In wartime, we will “use the tactics of others against them”.

On the other hand, we need to study our adversary’s weaknesses. We need to look for those weaknesses in both the combat system layer and the war system layer including military deficiencies, as well as weak points in politics, economy, and civilian morale. If we take this approach when decide upon a strategy, the strategy will be more effective. We will expand our strategic planning space and enrich our strategic methods. Therefore we will be in a better position to achieve our strategic intent of taking advantage of our strengths on the battlefield and controlling the enemy through his weaknesses.

Pay close attention to the advanced design of future wars. Advanced design of future wars is done according to the development of trends for future wars. This includes planning for war long in advance, planning the long-development of the national defense and of the military, and learning scientific methods for winning the initiative in future wars. The heart of this is facing the future, designing for the future and winning the future.
First of all, we need to develop new combat theories and methods through simulation experiments and then put them into practice in training and in combat. In the era of informatization by using computers and networking technologies, great progress has been made in ways and methods for advanced design of future battles. Simulations and modeling and on-base games have already risen from the tactical level to the strategic level. Strategic concepts, strategic preparation planning, and strategic theory will be created in war preparation implementation environments, debugged and improved.

For example, the US military has already developed a complete combat innovation system. From the “integrated ground-air battle” of the 1980s to the “integrated air-sea battle” announced not long ago as well as other advanced combat theories. These all use advanced S&T methods to support relevant experiments and verification to support the development and improvement of these theories.

In order to adapt to these trends, our military will need to organically integrate the research departments that work on innovative battle concepts and theories, the experimental offices that work on demonstrations of combat concepts and theories, the experimental offices that work on verification of combat concepts and theories, and the combat troops who provide the combat strength. We need to create a new type of man-machine integrated closed-loop feedback control system for preparation of the battlefield. This will provide the support of S&T methods to enable us to move from passively adapting to trends in future warfare to taking the initiative in designing the wars of the future, establish military strategies, and creating new military strategies.

Chinese text:

结。这些过去的战争所留给我们的血的教训,应该着重地学习它。” ②应立足现在,着眼未来,以发展的眼光看待过去的战争,借鉴仍然有益的东西,规避可能重复的错误,抛弃, 已经过时的经验。尤其不能陶醉于自己过去战争胜利的辉煌之中,必须看到过去的胜利可
能就是未来失败的种子。二是要善于研究当代他国的战争。在和平条件下直接战争实践机会较少, 一定意义上,更需要关注间接战争实践,把当代他国进行的战争作为自己制定军事战略的参照物,从中把握战争形态、作战形式、作战方法的基本特点和发展趋势,发现和总结当代具有主导性的战争规律和战争指导规律,再把自己的国情、军情加上去,有针对性地筹划未来可能面临的战争,指导军队现代化建设。1993 年我军制定新时期军事战略方针,其基本的动因就是从海湾战争中预见到了高技术战争时代的来临。

师敌以制敌。军事战略是具体的有针对性的运筹,制定军事战略就不是漫无目的和边际的纸上谈兵。平时争夺优势、战时谋求胜利的敌我对抗,决定了制定军事战略需要瞄准现实和潜在对手,以学习的态度来认真琢磨其军事理论、军事体系、军事能力和作战特点。学习和研究对手,不是为学习而学习,为研究而研究,而是以克制对手为目的,”熟识敌我各方面的情况”,努力探寻战胜对于的规律和办法。一方面要研究对手之所长,平时为我借鉴吸收,战时”以其人之道还治其人之身” 。另一方面更要注重研究对手之所短,从作战体系和战争体系两个层面寻找其弱点,既包括军事上的不足,也包括政治、经济及民众精神和心理上的”软肋”,从而在制定战略时更加有的放矢,扩大战略运筹空间,丰富战略方式方法,以便更有效地实现扬己之长、克敌之短的战略意图。

在信息化条件下,借助计算机和网络技术,战争预实践的手段和方法大为拓展,仿真、模拟和基地演练已经从战役战术层面上升到战略层面,战略构想、战略预案和战略理论将在战争预实践环境中生成、检验并完善。如美军已形成了完整的作战创新体系,从20 世纪80 年代提出”空地一体战”到前不久提出”空海一体战”等高端作战理论,都广泛运用高科技手段开展相关实验论证,为其发展完善提供牵引支撑。适应这一新趋势,我军应当把创新作战概念和理论的研究部门、演示作战概念和理论的实验部门、验证作战概念和理论的实验部队、实际生成战斗力的作战部队有机联系起来,形成人机结合、环路闭合的新型战争预实践机制,变被动适应未来战争为主动设计未来战争,为制定军事战略、创新军事战略提供先进的科学的方法支撑。

② 《毛泽东军事文集》第l 卷,第701 页,军事科学出版社、中央文献出版
社1993 年版。
Full text is online at


About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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