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Blasko, Dennis J.

Blasko, Dennis J.

PERSONAL:

Education: Attended the United States Military Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Atlantic Beach, FL.

CAREER:

Writer. Spent twenty-three years as a U.S. Army intelligence officer specializing in China; army attaché in Beijing and Hong Kong, 1992-96. Served in infantry units in Germany, Italy, and Korea; worked in Washington, DC, at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Headquarters Department of the Army (Office of Special Operations), and the National Defense University War Gaming and Simulation Center. Military service: U.S. Army, Lt. Colonel.

WRITINGS:

The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century, Routledge (New York, NY), 2006.

Has written articles and book chapters on the Chinese military and defense industries.

SIDELIGHTS:

Dennis J. Blasko spent more than two decades in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer and foreign area officer specializing in China. He has written numerous articles and book chapters on the Chinese military and defense industries. His first book, The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century, "present[s] an excellent ‘nuts-and-bolts’ picture of the PLA [People's Liberation Army] … today," wrote Richard A. Bitzinger in China Review International. Bitzinger added: "This is the Chinese Army by-the-numbers, and he organizes his book logically and linearly, like any good military officer would."

Writing in the book's preface, the author explains his notion of the book. Blasko notes: "This book also does not attempt to delve deeply into the political issues that could cause war in the region nor does it attempt to predict ‘red lines’ one side or the other may cross that could lead to military action. Instead, it is intended to be a baseline for understanding the Chinese military and perhaps encourage future studies of issues only briefly mentioned here."

The author does provide a comprehensive and exhaustive study of the Chinese military modernization with a focus on the army and its ground forces. The author's first three chapters focus on the who, what, and where of the PLA. For example, he provides a brief history of the army, from its beginnings as a guerrilla army fighting for communistic social transformation to its metamorphosis into a standard, conventional army at the end of the twentieth century. The author goes on to examine how the PLA will fight and the equipment they have available. He examines how the PLA trains its troops and also looks at the army's role in Chinese society. His conclusion includes a look at the Tiananmen Square incident.

A contributor to JFQ: Joint Force Quarterly noted that the author "is truly an expert on the affairs of the PLA," adding: "He puts all his expertise into this book, which contains accurate and concisely structured information about the current organization, order of battle, and capabilities of the PLA—as much as one can find in an open source publication." The author pays special attention to the military modernization program of the PLA beginning in 1999 as he details the changes implemented since then. "Modernization of the PLA goes beyond the obvious development and purchase of better arms and equipment," noted Prisco R. Hernandez in Military Review. "It also includes a thorough revision of doctrine, training, organization, tactics, and leadership."

The author also places the Chinese army military changes within the context of the many army traditions that remain. He carefully analyzes training and doctrine within the army in order to understand the progress made in China's military modernization and the obstacles that it still has to overcome. Weaving many disparate threads from official Chinese statements, documents, and media reports into an integrated whole, the author defines exactly what forces make up the People's Liberation Army and examines in detail ground-force organization and structure, personnel policies, doctrine and training, new equipment entering the force, and missions routinely undertaken in support of society.

"His topic does not lend itself to scintillating writing, but if you want to know how many ‘trigger pullers’ there are in a rifle squad or how the teachings of Sun Tzu some 2,500 years ago are applied in the PLA today, this clearly written primer belongs on your professional bookshelf," wrote Richard Halloran in a review of The Chinese Army Today in Parameters. Prisco R. Hernandez noted in Military Review that the author's "book is an authoritative primer on the PLA for national security professionals."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Blasko, Dennis J. The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century, Routledge (New York, NY), 2005.

PERIODICALS

China Review International, fall, 2006, Richard A. Bitzinger, review of The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century, pp. 363-365.

East Asia: An International Quarterly, winter, 2006, Andrew J. Nathan, review of The Chinese Army Today, p. 90.

JFQ: Joint Force Quarterly, fall, 2007, review of The Chinese Army Today, p. 160.

Military Review, September-October, 2006, Prisco R. Hernandez, review of The Chinese Army Today, p. 118.

Parameters, winter, 2006, Richard Halloran, review of The Chinese Army Today, p. 134.

Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of The Chinese Army Today.

ONLINE

Jamestown Foundation Web site,http://www.jamestown.org/ (June 22, 2008), brief biography of author.

U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission Web site,http://www.uscc.gov/ (June 22, 2008), profile of author.

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