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SECURITY > Self-Defense Forces

Editorial: Enhance effectiveness of integrated operation with new GSDF command

  • April 1, 2018
  • , The Japan News , 7:52 p.m.
  • English Press

It is a reorganization of the Ground Self-Defense Force considered essential in advancing integrated operation of the SDF. This reorganization should be one that would enable a deeper cooperation of the GSDF, Maritime Self-Defense Force and Air Self-Defense Force.


The GSDF has established the Ground Component Command, which is responsible for a centralized command of the five regional armies in the country.


The new command is an organization considered horizontal to the Self-Defense Fleet of the MSDF and the Air Defense Command of the ASDF, and aimed at developing a system to enable the integrated operation of the GSDF, MSDF and ASDF.


Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera emphasized the significance of the establishment of the Ground Component Command, saying that “we are increasingly assuming various situations requiring [a] prompt response to be made at the national level through the joint operation of the GSDF, MSDF and ASDF, such as a ballistic missile attack, an attack on remote islands and a large-scale disaster.”


The SDF’s activities with the U.S. forces, which have a well-developed system of joint operations, should become smoother. It is vital to enhance the dexterity of its units by continuously conducting joint drills and so forth, with various situations assumed.


At a time of such incidents as a major disaster, the defense minister took direct command of the five regional armies, but from now on the Ground Component Command will be involved in coordinating them. With 180 personnel, the command’s headquarters are set up in Camp Asaka, a base that lies in Tokyo and its neighboring areas.


In dealing with situations in which damage is spread over an extended area, such as a feared massive earthquake originating in the Nankai Trough, actions need to be taken beyond the jurisdiction of regional armies. At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, more than 100,000 SDF officials were dispatched to the affected areas from across the country.


The Ground Component Command is required to take a centralized command of the about 140,000 GSDF officials and deploy them effectively for the activities of rescuing and supporting the victims of a disaster.


Crucial in dealing with China


The centralized operation of SDF units has become increasingly important in dealing with a Chinese military that is rapidly modernizing.


Holding the key to such a task is the amphibious rapid deployment brigade that has been established under the Ground Component Command. It has been stationed at Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, with a strength of about 2,100 personnel. This is an organization that is modeled after the U.S. Marine Corps and in the event of an invasion of a remote island by a foreign military, it will become a core unit for conducting such operations as regaining the island.


The new unit has to boost its capability by repeatedly conducting its joint exercises with the U.S. Marine Corps.


The Defense Ministry was scheduled to deploy Ospreys, as transport aircraft for the amphibious rapid deployment brigade, at a site adjacent to Saga Airport in Saga. But due to the impact of a recent GSDF helicopter crash in Saga Prefecture, there has been no prospect of having them deployed there.


The ministry plans to deploy them at Camp Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture for the time being. Reviewing the means of transportation would also become necessary.


A Chinese Navy submarine was confirmed entering the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in January. Incursions into Japan’s territorial waters by Chinese government ships have become normal occurrence. While not relaxing the warning and surveillance activities, preparations for unforeseen situations should also be made thoroughly.


With regards to the defense of the Nansei Islands, the defense ministry plans to deploy security and missile units to such islands as Miyakojima. The plan should be advanced steadily, while winning the understanding of the local communities.

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