The Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) introduced a specialized unit called the International Peace Cooperation activities Training Unit (IPCATng) to the press on Wednesday. The IPCATng is stationed at Camp Komakado in Gotenba City, Shizuoka Prefecture, and responsible for training GSDF units assigned for overseas operations such as the Peacekeeping Operation (PKO). Enactment of the security law last spring made overseas deployment of the Self-Defense Forces more likely. The focus of future training programs will have a great influence on SDF’s preparedness.
The unit trains roughly 180 personnel annually in two separate programs for officers and platoon leaders. The training and instruction are available for PKO preparation units.
The training uses a simulation device created by the SDF that visualizes about one hundred scenarios for trainees to deal with. For example, the platoon leaders’ course includes scenarios in which a trainee confronts “an explosion and resulting casualties while on the move,” or “an enemy attack while in transit.” A discussion session follows the simulation to define the main issues of each scenario.
Since the end of the Cold War, the focus of overseas operations has shifted from peacekeeping to dealing with civil wars. After the PKO’s insistence that it remain neutral in conflicts led to the Rwanda Genocide in 1994, its policy changed to actively protecting civilian populations. That led to its undertaking more diverse and complicated missions.
Currently, the SDF deploys personnel for the PKO in South Sudan. The security law does not apply to units there. However, some senior SDF officers anticipate that after the Upper House election there will be new developments including actual training exercises. The training may include “joint defense of an encampment” and armed “rushing to rescue missions” in support of foreign militaries or to help civilians. (Abridged)