Chinese Influences on Foreign Militaries

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Norfolk, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    Much has been made of not only Foreign and especially Western influences on the Chinese military, but also on China's need to adopt or a tleast in some form or other emulate such influences. I think that this can be overdone, particulary in the realms of both strategy and tactics, as well as technology (though the latter is mainly in the farther past). From Sun Tzu to gunpowder to the 3-Cell Infantry Squad just to name a few, China has had an immense influence on the Military strategy, operations, tactics, history, and thought of the entire world. Only Germany rivals China in this area. No-one else, not even Russia and Britain even come close.

    Having been an infantryman, I personally take great interest in the 3-Cell Infantry Squad that was pioneered by the PLA (then called the Red Army) at least as early as the 1930's. Its performance in battle against both the Kuomintang and the Imperial Japanese Army so impressed a US Marine Corps officer (Carlson) who observed it in battle against the IJN in 1937 that during the Second World War, he adapted it for use in a USMC Raider Battalion. After the disbandment of the Raider Battalions part-way through WWII, the USMC as a whole adopted the Chinese 3-Cell Infantry Squad. The USMC Rifle Squad changed the name of the 3-man Chinese "Cell" to "Fire Team" and during 1944 added a fourth man to the Fire Team. The Cell is the original Fire Team upon which modern Infantry Squad/Section organizations and tactics (combined with the German integration of the Light Machine Gun into the Infantry Squad/Section, which the USMC did not undertake until the 1980's), are presently based.

    The Chinese 3-man, 3-Cell Infantry Squad lent itself to great flexibility and the use of individual initiative. Foreign Infantry Squad/Section organizations often (and often still do) limited these, unnecessarily even. A two-team based squad or section is capable of making frontal attacks by alternating cover fire and movement between teams (but this involves the prospect of heavy losses) or performing flank attacks, with one team providing cover fire to suppress the enemy position while the other moves as close a possible to the enemy position and then assaults it from the flank.

    The 3-Cell Squad is capable of both of these offensive tactics, but with a twist. In the frontal attack, the 3-Cell squad can use the cover fire of two teams to cover the movement of one team at a time, thus providing greater suppressive fire than just one team covering, reducing losses. In the flank attack, again, two teams can cover with suppressive fire the enemy position while the third teams moves under cover to a flank, and then assaults the enemy.

    But the 3-Cell Squad is capable of another offensive tactic that the two-team squad/section is more or less incapable of (at least without extensive reorganization, and only if it has sufficient numbers to do so to begin with). This is the double-flank (or double-envelopment) attack, and in certain conditions of terrain this is not only possible, but desirable. There are two basic variations of this attack, depending on the weaponry used. The first variation uses one Cell with a light machine gun (and ideally an underslung grenade launcher as well) to provide cover fire to suppress the enemy position, while the other two cells move under cover to opposite flanks until the 3 cells of the squad form a "T" shape with the base of fire cell at the base of the T, the two flanking cells at opposite ends of the top of the T, and the enemy caught right in the middle. The two flanking cells in this variation should not use light machine guns for fear of shootiung each other, but rather aimed sinlge-shots (and maybe even aimed, short bursts) at the enemy position. The enemy may panic, and perceiving (falsely) that the rear is still open, may try to break-out out or escape to the rear. The two flanking cells will cut him down with ease. If assault is necessary, great care must be taken as one cell assaults while the other two cells switch their fires to cover the assaulting cells' rear.

    The second variation of the double-flanking attack which the 3-Cell Squad is capable of, (but not the two-team squad or section) is much more risky, especially as it uses a light machine gun and an underslung grenade launcher in each Cell. Again, one cell provides covering fire while the other two moves to the flanks, but this time they keep moving until each forms a top arm of a "Y" formation. This variation may be used to reduce a stubborn, by-passed centre of resistance, in which friendly troops cannot get in, but the enemy can't get out either. An actual assault is unlikely to occurr here, rather the enemy is to be waited out and destroyed by fire (he will eventually run out of food, ammo, and water), thus (hopefully) sparing friendly troops unncessary losses in trying to dig out a more or less immovable enemy. Great care must be taken with arcs of fire to avoid hitting the other cells, especially for light machine guns, and arcs for these may well be restricted to only about 20 degrees or so. Nevertheless, the enemy is surrounded and his situation is hopeless, and he will be destroyed by fire sooner or later (unless he surrender of course). This is a tactic to be used against hopelessly cut-off and surrounded die-hards, and to kill them without risking your own men unnecessarily against fanatics. You can't really do this with a two-team squad/section.

    The USMC formally adopted the Chinese 3-Cell Squad in 1944, and after making its own adaptations to it (including adding a fourth man to each cell, thus inventing the Fire Team), and has used it ever since. It is the envy of Infantry all over the world, and it born was three-quarters of a century ago in China:D.
     
  2. crobato
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    crobato Colonel
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    Very interesting. As a note the NRA (not the National Rifle Association, the National Revolutionary Army---the formal name of the ROC Kuomingtang army) uses a squad with 14 men. Do you know more about this?
     
  3. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    The best that I can come up with is informed speculation; I have found no clear sources so far on this subject. As far as I can tell, the NRA infantry squad was broken down into a four-man light machine gun team, and I believe three 3-man teams just like the Red Army/PLA, with an NCO as Squad Commander. This may have been different for German-trained units, although I expect that such squads would have likely have consisted of 12-14men organized into a 3-4-man light machine gun team (depending on the LMG used) with the Squad Leader himself in charge and adding a fourth or fifth member to the LMG team, and a rifle team led by the Assistant Squad Leader with 6-8 riflemen (including 1 rifle-grenadier).

    But the vast majority of NRA infantry squads (like the Red Army/PLA infantry squads) would almost certainly have used the 3-Cell, 3-men per Cell, Rifle Squad led by a single NCO, for a total of 10 men, reinforced in the NRA's case by a 4-man Light Machine Gun Team (1 LMG, with the other three team members carrying only pistols). I am under the impression (though this is, as I said, informed speculation) that this was the "standard" Infantry Squad organization as taught at the Whampoa Military Academy and used by both Nationalists and Communists (although the latter of course did not include the additional Light Machine Gun Team).
     
  4. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    The close combat/close-quarter battle (CQB) techniques and systems used by most of the world's militaries originate in large part from the Shanghai Municipal Police. During the 1930's, the unarmed combat systems and silent killing techniques (derived in large part from elements of Chinese martial arts, particularly Kung-Fu/Gung-Fu despite the ban on it being taught to foreigners, as well as Japanese martial arts) that were taught to the British Commandos (and shortly afterwards to British Special Forces and subsequently to other troops, and especially infantry, throughout the world) as well as instinctive shooting techniques and room-clearing procedures (especially with pistols) were pioneered by the Shanghai Police as they fought gang wars with organized crime in the midst of a China rent by internal division, foreign colonization and invasion, and civil war. Shanghai was an exceptionally dangerous city in those days, and the Police were by no means a regular constabulary, given the circumstances they found themselves in.

    These systems and techniques were brought to Britain by two members of the Shanghai Municipal Police, Bill Fairbairn and Eric Sykes, and, as already mentioned, taught to the Commandos and then to the Special Forces (as well as SOE, amongst others). Various Allied forces also received the same training, and in years since, most infantry soldiers (as well as others) in armies across the world receive more or less similar training in unarmed combat, silent killing, and close-quarter battle (CQB) that originated with the Shanghai Police. Prior to this, close-combat training had revolved largely around bayonet fighting (with both fixed bayonets and unfixed, bayonet in hand), and using either light machine guns or sub-machine guns/machine-pistols to clear trenches or rooms.

    Rex Applegate in the US (amongst others) partnered with Fairbairn and Sykes to improve the quality of close combat training for Allied troops, and various new weapons (or modern variations on old ones) were devised. The famous Fairbairn-Sykes (FS) Fighting Knife or "Commando Dagger" was especially designed for hand-to-hand combat and silent killing, along with the Smatchet. Fairbairn and Applegate partnered up to create a similar design, the Fairbairn-Applegate Fighting Knive; another similar design, the V-42 was created for the First Special Service Force.

    The techniques of close combat(unarmed/hand-to-hand combat, silent killing, and close quarter battle with pistols and automatic weapons using instinctive shooting) that are used almost universally across the militaries of the world
    (albeit with new developments and refinements over the years), and especially by infantry, commando forces, and special forces, were pioneered and developed in China by the Shanghai Municipal Police in the years leading up to the Second World War.
     
  5. Norfolk
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    Norfolk Junior Member
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    The ubiquitous hand grenade was invented in China in the 13th Century (I think) to be used against the Mongols. Typically, it was hurled at Mongols troops besieging Chinese fortifications; due to their early lack of engineer troops and equipment (later made good by recruiting foreign military engineers) the Mongols were compelled to either take fortified positions by storm, or simply try to starve out the occupants. In the first case, the Mongols obviously would have to close with the defenders, exposing themselves to hand grenade attacks. In the second case, the Mongols would have to stay out of grenade-throwing range of the fortifications during a lengthy siege.

    The hand grenade has come and gone, and returned over and over through the centuries and in different forms. Europeans began widespread use of hand grenade in the 17th Century. The First World War gave the hand grenade its present form, and it remains an essential part of the Infantryman's arsenal.

    http://www.armystudyguide.com/content/army_board_study_guide_topics/hand_grenades/photos-of-hand-grenades.shtml
     
  6. crobato
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    crobato Colonel
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    Once gunpowder was invented, a whole host of secondary inventions based on its applications would emerge.

    The rocket and the grenade was among these early Chinese innovations. But there are others. They include the mine, the torpedo (essentially a rocket strapped on a small hull), and the first MLRS or multiple rocket launcher.

    With regards to close combat, the PLA and the PAP uses a type of kung fu called sanda. When it comes to sanda, you have to remove preconceived notions of kung fu that have been developed and made famous in movies, like the various forms of Shaolin kung fu, Wing Chun (Bruce Lee) or Wu Shu. Sanda is a much more modern style, developed during the Boxer rebellions, straightforward, easier to train, very hard core and generally meant to kill or maim. Its comparable to muay thai but with take down and wrestling moves. As a martial arts system it does not play around with esoteric concepts like "chi", but goes for sheer athleticism and speed. The styles developed by the Shanghai Municipal Police might be related with Sanda which also the chosen martial arts form of the Republicans and the Kuomingtang.
     
  7. gizhou
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    gizhou Banned Idiot

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    The SMP sytems approach to pistol shooting, what is now known as CQB, were developed in the early 1920s and refined by the end of 1927. W.E. Fairbairn developed Defendu which was taught to the SMP and is a mixture of ju jitsu and gong fu. The United States Marine Corps were developing four man teams in Shanghai, independent of the SMP and CCP, in 1937/38. The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army first used four man 'fire teams' in May 1928, based on the Taiping's use of them, following Directive Number 51from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. No speculation - fully documented.
     
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