The Ministry of Defense (MOD) will launch the Ground Component Command (GCC), responsible for the integral operation of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), on March 27. The ministry will also set up the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), a “Japanese version of the Marines,” tasked with defending remote islands. The plans are part of Japan’s efforts to enhance preparedness for North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and for contingencies in the Southwest Islands. The addition of the two units will be the largest reorganization since the GSDF was founded in 1954.
The GCC will be headquartered in Camp Asaka, which straddles Tokyo’s Nerima Ward, Asaka and other cities in Saitama Prefecture, and a lieutenant general will serve as commander. The GCC will coordinate Japan’s five regional armies (Northern Army, North Eastern Army, Eastern Army, Middle Army, and Western Army) and will exercise command and operational functions across these regional armies. Previously, the regional armies were under the direct command of the defense minister.
The establishment of the GCC was included in the midterm defense buildup plan approved by the cabinet in 2013 “for the purpose of carrying out swift and flexible nationwide operation of units.”
The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has the Self Defense Fleet (SDF), which commands escort fleets and submarine fleets, and the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) has the Air Defense Command (ADC), which controls regional flying corps. The establishment of the GCC will enable the GSDF to have the same system. The GCC is also intended to integrate operations of the GSDF, the MSDF, and the ASDF and bolster cooperation with the U.S. military.
The ARDB, which will be under the direct control of the GCC, will be newly organized with some 2,100 members by adding amphibious vehicles and support units to the Western Army Infantry Regiment (WAIR) based at Camp Ainoura in Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture. In light of situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture,the ARDB will engage in recapture operations if the Southwest Islands are invaded.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera submitted the planned appointments of new Self-Defense Force (SDF) senior officials, including Central Readiness Force (CRF) Cmdr Shigeru Kobayashi as the GCC commander, to be established in the GSDF on March 27, to a cabinet meeting on March 20 and the plans were approved. The appointments will be made on March 27.
[GCC Cmdr Shigeru Kobayashi]
Kobayashi graduated from the National Defense Academy of Japan (NDAJ) and joined the GSDF in 1983. He served as a senior official of the NDAJ before being appointed as CRF commander in July 2016. He is 57 years old and originally from Miyagi Prefecture.