Introduction: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has portrayed its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in heroic terms: battling against an insidious enemy, PLA personnel courageously and tirelessly helped to mitigate the disaster in the epidemic-ravaged city. The PLA has even made the amazing (and highly improbable) claim that it accomplished this while suffering zero infections within its own ranks (China Military Online, March 3). Despite the hype, the crisis has provided an opportunity for the PLA’s newly reformed logistics system to test its ability to mobilize resources in exigent circumstances. The Joint Logistic Support Force (联勤保障部队, Lianqin Baozhang Budui) or JLSF, which was created in September 2016 as part of Xi Jinping’s larger overhaul of the military, has been at the forefront of the PLA’s response.  The JLSF’s role in Wuhan illuminated several key strengths of the PLA logistics system—including centralized control, effective use of information technology, and civil-military coordination—while also suggesting potential deficiencies. At a minimum, the crisis likely resulted in “lessons learned” that could improve the JLSF’s role in supporting commanders during wartime.
The Jamestown Foundation. VOLUME 20 • ISSUE 7 • APRIL 13, 2020 Responding to the Epidemic in Wuhan: Insights into Chinese Military Logistics By Joel Wuthnow……………………………………………………..pp. 6-11
Dr. Joel Wuthnow is a senior research fellow in the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs within the Institute for National for Strategic Studies at NDU. His research areas include Chinese foreign and security policy, Chinese military affairs, U.S.-China relations, and strategic developments in East Asia. In addition to his duties in INSS, he also serves as an adjunct professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.