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PLA SSF: Why China will be ahead of Everyone in Future Cyber, Space or Information Warfare

The humiliation in the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis and the 1999 bombing of Belgrade embassy compelled China to rework its armed forces. Out came SSF in 2015.

People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force contingent made its debut appearance at China’s military day parade, earlier this year. Formed on this day in 2015, it is mandated to create synergies between China’s space, cyber and electronic warfare. The PLA considers these three domains critical for “commanding strategic heights.” The SSF was formed to optimise China’s dominance in these three domains and also contribute to enhancing the PLA’s broader goals of strategic deterrence and integration for information warfare.

Reasons for SSF’s formation

Though the Strategic Support Force (SSF) was formed only in 2015, the conversation in China surrounding information and space warfare had begun in the 1990s. The United States’ use of information technology in the first Gulf War (August 1990-February 1991) sparked debates in the Chinese military establishment and academia. The national humiliation during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996 and the bombing of its embassy in Belgrade, Serbia, by the US-led NATO forces in 1999 compelled China to relook at and rework its armed forces.


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