Updated December 31st, 2023 at 15:54 IST

China's enigmatic PLA SSF marks 8 years information warfare from the shadows

Established in 2015, this enigmatic force operates silently, providing strategic information support to the PLA.

Yuvraj Tyagi
China's SSF
China's SSF | Image:Chinamil

China entered a new era of strategic warfare eight years ago with the establishment of the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLA SSF) on December 31, 2015. This enigmatic force, often characterized as 'lethal and shadowy,' has since played a pivotal role in shaping Beijing's information warfare capabilities, evolving into a silent architect behind the scenes. 

As the PLA SSF commemorates its eighth anniversary, it is imperative to delve into the dual missions that define its existence. On one front, it serves as the backbone, providing the PLA with strategic information support through space and network-based capabilities. This encompasses communications, navigation and positioning, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and the protection of military information infrastructure. Simultaneously, it actively engages in information operations, spanning space and counter-space, cyber, electromagnetic warfare, and psychological and political warfare. 


The silent force's Global impact

PLA's SSF troops during a high-intensity field training. | Credit- Chinamil

Despite its secretive nature, the PLA SSF extends its influence globally. Unlike its counterparts, its capabilities and missions transcend geographical boundaries, positioning it as a potent architect of China's international power projection. The force's silent but impactful presence in the evolving landscape of information warfare demands attention and analysis from global stakeholders who must grapple with the force's far-reaching impact. 


As the PLA SSF navigates its eighth year, challenges and considerations loom on the horizon. The force's enigmatic nature, coupled with its expansive capabilities, underscores the need for a nuanced understanding. Nations worldwide must grapple with the evolving landscape of information warfare and adopt proactive measures to safeguard their security interests. The PLA SSF's unique position within China's military framework necessitates careful observation and strategic responses from nations seeking to protect their interests in the realm of information warfare.

China's PLA SSF, as it celebrates eight years of existence, remains a significant player in the global information warfare arena. Its impact, both within and outside China, requires a comprehensive approach from nations to navigate the challenges posed by this silent force. Understanding its mission and capabilities becomes paramount for those vested in the complexities of contemporary warfare. As the world grapples with the nuances of the 'info war' landscape, the PLA SSF stands as a testament to the evolving nature of strategic forces in the 21st century. 


Published December 31st, 2023 at 15:54 IST

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