The “Red Dragon's” Commandos

The “Red Dragon's” Commandos
Stephanos Peppas,
Defence and International Relations  Researcher, 27-8-2016


The Chinese people are known as patient and persistent, with a long history and tradition on  War. They closely monitor developments in the special forces area (and not only) and adopt what appreciate as useful and efficient, adapting it to their own data. Their admiration for the Greek Special Forces is expressed many times to the responsible Greek commanders during exercises / demonstrations, by the permanent military delegation of China in our country. It is true that during their training, some activities seem strange and sophisticated in the eyes of the West, but not cease to be objects of skill and endurance, because there in lies the secret for military training:

Solidify the soul, without fear of death!

On December 23, 2008, their first publicly known mission was escorting three Chinese warships to protect and escort merchant ships because of Somali pirates, in cooperation with other countries, as part of the UN mission.

Over the past 15 years, these units were expanded, additional units of Special Forces were formed (including some small units composed ONLY of women), and new special units created  belonging to the Navy, the Air Force and the Second Artillery Squadron. Currently, the total number of commandos, is estimated to range from 20,000 to 30,000 personnel, or about one percent of the entire Chinese Army and the fact is that China never have revealed the exact number of their commandos. The Special units of China, comprised of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers, as well as by recruits and young lieutenants, who just graduated from academies including the Academy of Special Operations in Guangzhou.

Some of the most well-known Special Operations Units


Military Region Guangzhou Special Forces - "South Blade" or "South China Sword"

Was founded in 1988 as the first stage recognition unit and later expanded in 2000 to become the first unit of special operations that took the form of Underwater Demolition and developed its activities.

Shenyang Military Region Special Forces - "Siberian tiger"

They are able to accomplish the missions on land, air and water and to wage war in desert conditions and survive in the wilderness, alone or in small groups. The unit places special emphasis on survival skills, often breaking the protocols to increase this training to two thirds of total education, forcing the soldiers to spend three to four months in difficult environments such as forests, mountains, deserts at little or no food.

The “Executives” have reportedly completed parachuting over 5,000 times and diving in more than 1000 hours. From this, we conclude that it is a purely professional Special Operations Unit.

Jinan Military Region Special Forces - "Eagle"

Also an Underwater Demolition Unit.



Chinese media about the training of the Special units of the country,  are focusing on the physical strength of the staff, the Commando methods, handling several weapons and close combat techniques. These units  have participated in several training exercises with foreign Special Units, including the Russian, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Jordan, USA, etc. They have also sent staff for training in Israel, Turkey, Estonia and Venezuela.




  • 2009 international military competitions in Slovakia -. 8 first places, six second places in 13 individual events
  • Third place in the World Cup sniper in 2010 and first place in 2011
  •  Best overall performance in the fifth and sixth "Warrior Competition" held at the Education Center for Business King Abdullah II of Jordan.
  • 1st place in the international competition "Warrior Competition" of 2013
  • 1st, 2nd, and 4th place in 2014 in the "Olympiad» Elite Warriors. This event had 33 teams from 19 nations. Between these two groups of Marines of the 22nd MEU, from the US.

The Red Dragon, ready to "baptism of fire"


The leadership of the Armed Forces of China, appears to recognize the advantages and limitations of its capabilities, in  Interdisciplinary and in Special Operations sector. The recent decision to involve Special units in the embattled Syrian zone against extremists, but also for Chinese interests in the region, shows that they want to ripen into actual war conditions and to show the necessary skills to be developed by a major army of any nation.

The large number of China's Special Units, is such that gives the necessary powers to  the Chinese Chief of Staff, not to show sparing in their use, as the Operational advantages of using elite men, expert in unorthodox warfare and anti-guerrilla warfare, are most positive.




1. PLA Daily

2. China News, March 10, 2014

3. The Jamestown Foundation, PLA Special Operations Forces: Organizations, Missions and Training by Dennis J. Blasko

4. , “Oriental Sword”