And we should heed the message about mirror imaging SOF. Dennis makes an important contribution by comparing Chinese SOF missions with the US military Title 10 SOF missionDespite its early history as a guerilla organization, the PLA does not include irregular and unconventional warfare among the types of campaigns the force may be assigned. Special operations are an “important campaign activity” to be integrated into operations along with information warfare, firepower, maneuver, and psychological warfare capabilities. “Campaign special operations” are defined in the textbook The Science of Campaigns asSOF units concentrate on special reconnaissance, raids, sabotage, and harassment while other non-SOF units conduct most special technical warfare tasks such as computer network attack.
PLA SOF units and capabilities are not a black box to outside observers as Chinese SOF units frequently interact with foreign counterparts. For example, PLA and PAP SOF personnel and units have participated in numerous training exercises with foreign militaries, special operations competitions, and in-country training at foreign schools. Chinese SOF teams often have had excellent results in international competitions. As a result, Chinese SOF units have demonstrated their capabilities in many types of small unit commando-type direct action and reconnaissance missions, the first two Title X core SOF activities.Though most analysts assume Chinese SOF would be used in Taiwan contingency operations (including support to and by “Fifth Column” fighters already on the island), there is little open source evidence that SOF units are organized or trained to conduct Title X unconventional warfare activities. Likewise, though the PLA provides training for foreigners in its system of schools in China, it does not appear to have recent experience in overseas foreign internal defense activities. No PLA SOF units are known to be organized and tasked similar to U.S. Army Special Forces (“Green Beret”) units.The PLA also does not have units equivalent to U.S. Civil Affairs units. Most national-level civil affairs operations conducted by the PLA requiring intergovernmental coordination fall under the purview of the General Staff and General Political Departments and are domestically oriented. PLA headquarters are part of the local government structures from the provincial to the county levels of government and commanders and staffs of these headquarters routinely work with their civilian counterparts. However, when it comes to governance functions, local civilian government and party officials are in control while local PLA officers focus on military matters. SOF units would not be involved in these functions.