|PLA cavalry of the second battalion of cavalry under the Inner Mongolia Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducts training on the Xilin Gol prairie, Aug. 4, 2013.(China Military Online)|
On the famous Xilin Gol prairie, herds of horses gallop on the grass. On August 4, reporters watched riders of the second battalion of cavalry under the Inner Mongolia Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) undergo training.
As the Cavalry dashed freely across the vast grasslands, they showed wonderful skills - riding, shooting, and leaping over obstacles.
The ancient forces of the cavalry date back to the Warring States period, and flourished during the Yuan Dynasty. The wonderful displays of this modern cavalry battalion seemed to evoke the splendor of battlefields of bygone days.
On the Xilin Gol prairie, the cavalry have always been a fixture. However, as modern warfare has turned to mechanization and information technology to replace mules and horses, the brilliance of the cavalry gradually dims. In 1985, in accordance with the demobilization strategy of the Central Military Commission, the cavalry disappeared as an armed force. The army retained only two symbolic cavalry battalions and a few troops of cavalry. Cavalry No.2 camp is one of them.
In 2011 Xilin Gol League was categorized as the "capital of horses" by the China Horse Industry Association. The horses of cavalry No.2 camp – impervious to heat and cold alike, and renowned for their stamina – are a fitting symbol of the "capital of horses", and their startling performances act as a magnet for visitors. But they represent much more than a courtesy salute to the past.
In the winter of 2010, snowstorms struck the Xilin Gol prairie, and transportation and communications were affected over a large area. One hundred herders trapped in the snow were in desperate need of rescue. In order to delivered rapid relief to the affected areas, the six cavalry horse teams of the No.2 battalion were pressed into service, bringing hope and warmth to the victims. They were affectionately known as "the saviors on horseback".
Will traditional cavalry fade from the stage of history?
On the training ground of the cavalry No.2 camp, Mr. Li Yihui, an expert in Combat Theory and Doctrine Research Department from the Academy of Military Sciences, researches new cavalry tactics under modern conditions of warfare together with the military commander Xie Weihua and the cavalry camp cadres. Li Yihui says: "Even in the information age, the status and role of our army cavalry cannot be dismissed. Kitted out with a Beidou handset, cavalry can utilize information technology, conduct intelligence reconnaissance, and act as artillery spotters.”