Theater Command Structure Reform:
On February 1st 2016 the PLA announced the Five Great Theater Commands (五大战区):
- Eastern Theater Command (ETC, 东部战区)
- Southern Theater Command (STC, 南部战区)
- Western Theater Command (WTC, 西部战区)
- Northern Theater Command (NTC, 北部战区)
- Central Theater Command (CTC, 中部战区)
From initially released information, it looks like a Theater Command will be a joint command at full military region grade (正大军区级 or 正战区级) directly responsible to the CMC for operational control of assigned forces from two or more services in the command’s area of responsibility.
Rather than directly commanding ‘legion’ (军团 – large formation) level military units (such as group armies, fleets, military region air forces, bases, etc.), as the Military Region (MR, 军区) commands did in theory, the Theater will command service component commands which will in turn command those ‘legion’ (军团) size units. Therefore, the theater command will consist of a joint operational command organ (联合作战指挥机构) and two or more service component commands, such as a Theater Army (战区陆军), a Theater Navy (战区海军), a Theater Air Force (战区空军), etc.