by Ryan Maass
Beijing (UPI) Jan 4, 2016
The Chinese government has announced new reforms to its military in an effort to improve the combat readiness of the People's Liberation Army.
The reforms, announced by China's Central Military Commission, include the establishment of three new military institutions under the People's Liberation Army, including strategic support troops, the rocket force, and an army leadership institution, according to CCTV America.
"The establishment of the army leadership institution, the rocket troops, and the strategic support troops is important," China President Xi Jingping said in a statement. "This will definitely be a crucial milestone in modernizing China's military and be enshrined in people's military history."
President Xi also serves as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Defense said at a press conference one of the planned institutions, the Rocket Force, will develop and operate missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. However, the spokesperson maintains the country's nuclear capabilities will be kept a the minimum required for its national security interests.
The Rocket Force is an upgraded version of China's Second Artillery Force, which operates both conventional and strategic missile weapons.
The announcement comes roughly a week after the Chinese government unveiled its plans to construct a second aircraft carrier for Chinese naval forces.
Chinese military expansion has come under scrutiny from the United States and other countries, as the military continues to push its presence into the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes.
'No reason' for Russia to view US as threat: Pentagon
Russia's new national security document, signed by President Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve, names as threats both the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance, according to the Pentagon's official news channel.
The previous document, from 2009, does not mention the United States or NATO.
"They have no reason to consider us a threat," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters.
"We are not looking for conflict with Russia," he added.
Russia's characterization reflects worsening relations between Moscow and Washington, as the two powers remain opposed on Ukraine and the civil war in Syria.
"We have our differences ... but it's fundamentally wrong to look at the United States as a threat to Russia," Davis added.
Still, the United States has previously used similar language to describe Moscow.
General Joseph Dunford, the top officer in the US military, said in July 2015 that Russia posed the biggest threat to American national security. The Pentagon said the new Russian document does not change Dunford's assessment.
Speaking in Stuttgart, Germany on Monday, Dunford said he hoped to eventually meet with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov.
"When you are in a period of difficulty, having a military-to-military, professional relationship ... can, one, help you better understand what you are dealing with, and, two, mitigate the risk of miscalculation," Dunford said.
Dunford is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and serves as the top military advisor for the president and defense secretary.
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