The subsequent chapters of this handbook will take the reader inside the PLAAF as an institution: its history, organization, personnel, and platforms. It will describe how the PLAAF recruits, educates, and trains its personnel. Also covered will be many of the unique institutional attributes of the PLAAF, such as the role of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the military. Before doing so, however, it is important to provide a larger context for the environment in which the PLAAF operates as an institution, for it does not exist in a vacuum. Many of the most significant reforms and initiatives the PLAAF has undergone in recent years, and which it continues to pursue, are the result of changes mandated from above across all of the organizations that comprise the greater
PLA. This chapter provides that larger context.