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PLA Army Group Army (Corps) Reforms -- The Known:
As of early May, only a few 'official' media reports have verified the reform of group armies and other corps grade organizations:
27 April: PLA spokesman SCOL Yang Yujun acknowledged that the PLA's group armies were now numbered: 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, and 83.
24 April: A single media report on 24 April made the first public reference to the new 76th Group Army, noting it's deputy commander MG Cao Junzhang (七十六集团军副军长曹均章少将), attended an event with Western Theater Command leadership, Western Theater Army Deputy Commander Wang Kai (西部战区陆军副司令员王凯少将), at a revolutionary era Red Worker's and Peasants Army "Western Route Army" memorial (中国工农红军西路军纪念馆).
- News article mentioning 76th GA - http://news.sina.com.cn/c/nd/2017-04-24/doc-ifyepsec0617906.shtml
- Wikipedia article on Western Route Army - https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/中国工农红军西路军
18 April: An official JFJB article announced that CMC Chairman Xi Jinping had announced a reform of the PLA's corps grade organizations into 84 new corps grade units (放军报报道，4月18日，习近平接见新调整组建军级单位主官，并对各单位发布训令。习近平表示，党中央和中央军委决定，全军新调整组建84个军级单位).
- News article from JFJB - http://jz.chinamil.com.cn/n2014/tp/content_7567108.htm
PLA Army Group Army (Corps) Reforms -- The Guesses:
18 April: On the same day as the first official mention of the 84 new corps level organizations mentioned above, a Global Times article was posted, and then taken down, that stated the existing 18 GAs would be reduced to 13. Five would be shuttered, and all would be renumbered. "starting with 71" (the founding day of the Chinese Communist Party is July First, or 7·1). That article posited that Eastern Theater would have 71, 72, and 73 GA, Southern Theater would have 74 and 75 GA, Western Theater would have 76 and 77GA, Northern Theater 78, 79, and 80GA, and Central Theater 81, 82, and 83GA. It also speculated that the PLA Air Force's (PLAAF) 15th Airborne Corps (空降15军) would be renamed 84th GA, for the first time making this ground force crops level fighting unit of the PLAAF a group army (集团军). This is not confirmed.
May 2: Other commentary suggests this change also includes the final, formal reform of ground force units to brigade based, removing completely the division (师) and regiment (团) from the PLA system, changing the "five level structure" of corps (军), division (师), brigade (旅), regiment (团), and battalion (营), to a "three level structure" of just corps (or group army, 军／集团军), brigade (旅), and battalion (营). (现有集团军、师、旅、团、营五级体制改为军、旅、营三级编制). Also, not confirmed.
PLA Army (PLAA) Reorganization of the Group Armies (Corps):
In April 2017 rumors began to spread across the Chinese language internet of a new major tranche of military reforms (军改), including the reorganization of the PLA Army's primary large ground formations, or as they call it the 'basic campaign legions' (基本战役军团). The current organizations called group armies by most English sources are the PLA Army's primary campaign-capable ground force large-formation units at the full corps grade (正军级) level. The PLA's group armies (集团军), are also known to some Western analysts as 'combined corps', an alternate English translation of the same Chinese term. Combined corps, or more commonly group armies (GA), replaced the PLA's corps in 1985. The basic ground campaign capable large organizations have gone through several major reorganizations, including 2003, 1997, and 1985 when the then corps (军) of the PLA's military regions (大军区) were first organized into group armies (集团军). In each of these reforms, several GA or corps have been deactivated or reorganized into the group armies that would survive each reform. This new 2017 reform is part of news that Xi Jinping personally approved a restructuring of all of the PLA's corps grade (正军级) organizations into 84 new corps grade organizations.
Military Mandarin LLC's New Group Army maps posted at www.Junyu.org incorporate authoritative sources and unconfirmed guesses, as of May 4th, 2017. Happy 98th Anniversary of the May 4th Movement!
2017 PLAA Reform