BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- On the command "fire," members of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force watched as a projectile was launched into the sky above a desert in western China.
Temperatures in this harsh corner of China often drop below minus 10 degrees Celsius this time of year, and frost was forming on the soldiers' eyebrows.
After a decade of service, Rocket Force battalion commander Li Weiran is no stranger to the training schedule.
"Each of us understands that drills prepare us for real warfare," said Li.
The live-fire drill was the first held by the Rocket Force's missile brigade this year, with drills also held by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Strategic Support Force and the Armed Police.
These drills are just a glimpse into China's ambitious plan to overhaul its military to make it stronger, more disciplined and better managed.
President Xi Jinping, who is also chair of the Central Military Commission (CMC), has said that defence and military reforms are crucial to the rejuvenation of the nation; "the Chinese Dream."
"Building a strong military is a pressing task for China as the information age has inspired major countries in the world to update and rejig their military systems and strategies," said Zhang Xueli, professor with the National University of Defense Technology.
Zhang hailed military reform as the only way to enhance real combat capacity, eradicate institutional barriers and elevate China's military and world standing.
Speaking at a meeting on military reform in November, Xi promised a complete overhaul of the armed forces' administrative and command systems, and said substantial changes should be achieved by 2020.
Traditionally, the administration and command systems were not managed separately, as such, modernization, specialization and combat capacity had been held back.
Inefficient leading agencies, unclear functions and ineffective joint command systems were all identified as areas that had hindered information warfare.
It was announced on Jan. 11 that the four military headquarters -- staff, politics, logistics and armaments -- had been reorganized into 15 new agencies under the CMC.
When meeting with the chiefs of the new agencies, Xi highlighted winning wars as their central task and underscored that their success would be measured by the troops' fighting abilities.
The Rocket Force, the Strategic Support Force and the Army's general had all been inaugurated on Dec. 31.
When speaking during the inauguration ceremony, Xi called for a smooth and speedy transition from a regional defense force to one that was able to fight in all domains, and urged the Rocket Force to enhance its nuclear deterrence and counter-strike capacity.
Behind the top leadership's commitment to improving the military's fighting capacity is the mentality that you must prepare for danger while living in peace.
The world is beset by a myriad confrontations, risks and challenges. China must take measures to protect itself from invasion, subversion, sovereignty threats to ensure its reform drive, development and stability are not interrupted or sabotaged.
In a circular issued in August 2013, the PLA said that defense and military modernization should be led by the ultimate goal of building a strong military.
At a military conference in 2014 Gutian in southeast China's Fujian Province in 2014, Xi said officers will be assessed by their ability to lead soldiers and win battles.
The troops themselves have also been involved in the modernization of the armed forces. At the beginning of 2014, the military headquarters began to solicit the opinions of its rank and file, asking them to identify problems and suggest ways that fighting capacity could be improved
In an article released on Thursday, the PLA Daily called this approach "a grand mobilization, liberation and a thorough cleanup of military ideology," which is leading a revolution in China's armed forces.
The campaign will help wake up soldiers who are still "intoxicated by the mentality that they will not fight in peace time," which is detrimental to the armed forces, the article posited.