The Leishen Commando, a PLAAF airborne special force, is in Latin America for joint training with an unidentified country. In addition to exports of tanks and fighters to Latin America, China is boosting its military to military ties on the continent through education, training and exercises. Despite releasing photos of the exercise, the Chinese Ministry of Defense has not identified the Latin American host country.
The Leishen Commando was formed on September 30, 2011. Previous international deployments include a 20 day counterterrorist training exercise in Venezuela during November 2011. Judging that the activities shown these photos include paradrops, ultralight flights and riverine infiltration, the Leishen Commando’s likely mission is operations behind enemy lines and counterterrorism. The current host nation would likely be Argentina or Venezuela.
China’s special forces are at the tip of China’s international military to military engagement, having previously gone in Jordan, Thailand and other countries. While Chinese sales of drones, warships and missiles might make more headlines, Chinese military exchanges will build the personal and institutional relationships needed to support China’s emerging global reach.
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