Why is US Army still training with China’s PLA?

Originally published by Asia Times

Trump administration has bested predecessors in categorizing the PLA as potential foe but the US Army still doesn’t get it

The US Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are now holding the 16th running of the Disaster Management Exchange, an annual bilateral training exercise that started in 2005.  Yes, this is the same PLA that the US Army is supposedly getting ready to fight and vice versa.  There must be something in the water at US Army headquarters.

Judging by the recent reports about this joint – if virtual – humanitarian disaster response training, it looks like US Army leadership still can’t decide if Uighur detention camps, turning the Chinese Gestapo loose on Hong Kong or the PLA getting ready to kill Americans including US Army servicemen by the thousands are a bad thing.

One wonders how America can possibly prevail with this sort of thinking in senior military ranks?  It doesn’t seem to align with US national security strategy. The Donald Trump administration has been better than its predecessors in categorizing the PLA as a potential adversary. But US Army leadership appears to consider that optional.

As I wrote a while back, the US Army hasn’t known what it thinks about China for several years. In 2013, the commander of the US Army Pacific declared he didn’t consider PLA a threat.

The current training exercise, known as Pacific Resilience, has been held annually since 2005 – even as China locked up the South China Sea, cracked down on a million-plus Uighurs, seized territory from US treaty ally the Philippines, tightened the noose on Taiwan, harassed US ships, bullied South Korea while keeping North Korea afloat and nuclear-armed, and conducted aggressive political warfare against US friends in the South and Central Pacific.

Of course, the other US military services had their problems too. In 2014, the then-PACOM commander, US Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, said climate change – not China – was his biggest worry.

Click HERE to read more.

About Grant Newsham

Grant Newsham is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Security Policy. He also is a Research Fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies focusing on Asia/Pacific defense, political and economic matters. Newsham is a retired U.S. Marine Colonel and was the first US Marine Liaison Officer to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. He also served as reserve head of intelligence for Marine Forces Pacific, and was the U.S. Marine Attaché, US Embassy Tokyo on two occasions.