For A Better and Deeper U.S.-Japan Alliance
- Applying Lessons Learned from JASDF Deployment to the Middle East
Toshimichi Nagaiwa (Lt General (ret.) Ex-ASC Commander
[PP-1] As a newcomer to the United States, just arrived last month, I wanted to learn its history, so I went to see a re-enactment of the Civil War at New Market in VA.
[PP-2] I was fascinated to see the recreation of the historic battle, so I visited the camping ground where re-enactors stay in inauthentic pup tents. When I introduced myself as former Lt. General of the Japanese air self-defense force (JASDF), they asked me whether I was the commander of a “Hot-air Balloon.”
[PP-3] Indeed, surveillance from the air using a manned balloon was first introduced at the time of the Civil War. Since then, the role of the Air Force has rapidly developed to become as important to military operations as ground or naval forces.
[PP-4] The recent environment inside and outside of Japan has dramatically changed. JASDF is now playing an important role, even in overseas operations. I myself was the commander of the Air Support Command for coalition forces in the Middle East, which has been deployed in Iraq for over 3 years to, and is still working with US forces as one team. I would like to use that experience in Iraq as the basis for my talk today “A better and Deeper US-Japan Alliance: Lessons Learned from JSDF Deployment to the Middle East”. Before focusing on JASDF airlift missions around Iraq, I would like to introduce some background on JASDF development over the last few years leading up to our experience in Iraq.
[PP-5] This slide was made to sort out the military situation around Japan during the latter half of the 1990’s when I was the Chief for the Defense Plans & Operations Dept. at the Air Staff Office. Even around that time we predicted that the coming 21st century would be a very tough and difficult era. Our prediction was that the possibility of large scale war between great nations would nearly disappear; however, there would be no boundary between wartime and peacetime, no distinction between areas where struggles and conflicts would occur, and the spectrum of possible threats, from missile attack to terrorism, would expand into a much wider area than expected. It is very unfortunate that our predictions during those days are now becoming a reality. The next chart shows our idea of what the JASDF has to build up in order to fulfill its role in defending the country given the predictions shown in the previous slide.
[PP-6] We came to the conclusion that Japan’s air force must transform itself from a service dedicated almost solely to an air defense role to a service that is balanced for carrying out all the missions normally associated with an air force. This includes the capability to attack enemy territories in response to various emergencies and the capability to respond to extraordinary incidents in a more practical and reasonable manner. We also need to have a more robust air defense system within our limited resources and funds. In addition, it was decided that we would more aggressively participate in PKO missions, international disaster relief deployments, and other obligations of this kind in order to build up our national security environment. Please kindly refer to a copy of this slide in your handout.
[PP-7,8] It is not only the JASDF that will expand its missions and roles. All SDF’s are working to meet the nations’ requests for expansion even though there are very strict budget and personnel resources. Japan also began to more quickly enact domestic laws such as emergency defense bills, which had been a long-standing issue.
[PP-9] While Japan has many things to do, it can be said that these decisions by, and requests from the nation, actually arise from a heightened state of crisis. Furthermore, I believe that the nation itself is becoming conscious of real power politics. Throughout the last 10 years, SDF’s international activities, especially the recent deployment to the Middle East, largely changed the role of the SDF themselves. Or it may also be said that the deployment may have triggered the alarm to wake Japan up. There may be people that have concerns about the intentions and consequences of Japan being rearmed; however, there should be little worry because Japan’s rearming will only be at a common sense level. In other words, Japan is moving away from having just a respectable and minimum military to a comprehensive and expanded military force capable of a number of security issues. This kind of change is not necessarily bad news. Rather it is good news for the U.S., for neighboring countries, as well as for Japan’s own peace and prosperity. Japan will not go too far. We need to pursue acceptable transformation in a way that is methodical and transparent to our neighbors.
[PP-10] At this point, I would like to outline the JASDF airlift missions around Iraq. Actually, This is the first time that the JASDF has performed a mission under threatening conditions overseas for a long while. We need to make changes if we want to succeed at air support missions a risky environment. We need to reform personnel consciousness. I trust my well-trained soldiers, but they still need a transformation.
[PP-11] Starting on December 26, 2003, the JASDF’s airlift squadron, consisting of three C-130H Hercules and about 200 personnel, were deployed as part of Japan’s Iraqi reconstruction operations. They performed more than 1200 sorties so far.
[PP-12] Initially their area of operations was limited to southern part of Iraq in order to support our GSDF. , In June 2006, GSDF troops left Samawar in Iraq. JASDF C-130s remain in Kuwait and are continuing their mission.
[PP-13] Now their destinations are expanding to all over Iraqi territory, Kuwait to Baghdad, Erbil, Ali, etc. Now, mainly, they transport Multilateral Forces and UN materials and personnel.
[PP-14] Although three Hercules seems to be a small number, it is almost the maximum limit Japan can muster for a long-term deployment if we take into account other relief requirements and training required to prepare our personnel for deployments. Another key issue is our limited manpower. We need to make a budget to increase new manpower. Also it takes 5 or more years to create captains. In Iraq, we cannot perform junior pilot training. I know those risky areas are suitable to raise their sense of situation awareness. There are only surface to air threats but no air-to-air. The tactical airlift SQ’s primary objective is to deliver soldiers to the front line under a conventional air-to-air enemy threat. Pilots, maintenance crews and loadmasters have been deployed almost 4 or 5 times during the past three years since the deployment first started. Because one deployment is 4 or 5 months long, that amounts to about 20 months deployment for each person in total.
[PP-15] Due to restrictions by Japanese government policy, JASDF mission was rather focused not on coalition military operations but on humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. Also JASDF was prohibited from carrying ammunition. These restrictions worked well politically, but they made it very difficult to operate as part of the coalition. This is an example of the kind of thing that Japan has to change. I think the U.S. can help by encouraging Japanese leaders to change these restrictions. We should not be afraid to improve Japan’s military flexibility and capability to support the coalition missions overseas. This chart shows the areas of their missions. Initially, there were no budget approvals for the refurbishment of C-130H’s to add self-defense protection, even for PKO mission before Iraq deployment. The reason given at the time sounds silly but it was that “PKO missions do not take place in dangerous areas.”
[PP-16] We had to warn our government that without the equipment, we would not deploy our troops to the front line. Now, we have received funds for this equipment. For future missions it will be necessary to equip our units with updated systems like the USAF’s. I think the U.S. needs to release such technologies for sale to Japan and other countries so we can operate jointly.
[PP-17] CAOC gives us comprehensive analysis, judgment, and vital threats in formations. Also we obtained some images and visions, which can be adapted for missions around Japan. The JASDF’ experience in Iraq is applicable to operations and emergencies in Japan.
[PP-18] The “heart” of the soldier is as follows. It is not a meaning of the soldier's “changing heart” which they already have. I know, in your country, you do not need to consider this. But in Japan, we need to explain to my public seriously and very politely as follows. JASDF soldiers knew that there was a certain risk to getting deployed to the Middle East. However, we understand the importance of this mission. This mission should be categorized as a duty but also as a contribution to a credible Japan in the future. We know someone has to take risks so that others may live. In order to accomplish those missions, we sent them to the front line under the following three principals, keeping threats in mind. 1. Establishing local oriented tactics 2. Preparing necessary combat equipment 3. Raising the personnel’s military potential, which was the most important. Finally, after receiving the order, they launched this mission with a collected mind and without being overly stressed or concerned.
[PP-19] We thought the time of pacifism had been over. Even when somebody demands “peace”, nothing happens. We needed to carry out actual missions. JSDF troops are active in the Mesopotamian Desert, but we came to recognize that what we are doing there is as important to Japanese security as what we are doing above the Japan Sea. In each activity, JASDF soldiers work with US Forces in close and effective cooperation. Our soldiers aspire to the SAMURAI tradition – Japanese spirit, Identity, ethics, and Harmony. During discussions about deploying the SDF, there were many naïve and silly conversations like which areas were considered combat areas and which were not, and how many guns should be brought there. Areas where military forces deploy are habitually risky areas. We should have been concentrating on how to deploy the SDF effectively and how to return safely. And we also should have had substantial dialogue about strategies and the reasons for deploying the SDF, and then presenting them not only to the nation but also to the international community. There was little dialogue on these critical issues.
[PP-20] Our missions are not only in Iraq. For Operation Enduring Freedom, we provide transportation to U.S. Forces.
[PP-21] Moreover, JASDF cargo units are active in International disaster relief missions.
[PP-22] I would like to introduce some ideas of how JASDF can adapt for future demands. In the near future, we should build robust capabilities.
[PP-23] For example, we will establish the foundation of a C-X - successor to the C-1 transport aircraft.
[PP-24] At the same time, we will reorganize the Air Support Command. Our current idea is that the new organization should be dedicated to transportation like Air Mobility Command in the U.S. Of course, I think the most important thing must be raising the personnel’s military potential - that is training and education. In the most distant future - three decades out - we must accomplish more sophisticated and demanded missions. Through the cooperation with Coalition Forces we will build strong reliability, working toward interdependence. Our ultimate goal is for our new Air Transportation Command to operate more swiftly, flexibly and broadly. What was the most important lesson learned during the SDF’s deployment to the Middle East? It was, I believe, that we have to further reinforce the U.S.-Japan alliance and make it more effective.
[PP-25] USAF has been one of the most important inspirations for the JASDF: it was its founding father. From the beginning, cooperation with USAF provided several plans to build up the JASDF, thousands of items of equipment, trained highly motivated personnel, and enhanced discipline and moral standards. Sharing the same responsibilities under difficult situations and risky environments, we have created a new trusting relationship. The support of U.S. forces during the SDF’s deployment was greater than ever before. It is a fact that one prepares to fight jointly if one recognizes that the other partner is credible.
[PP-26,27,28] Some people say that a partnership with a weak ally is like an “Alliance without reliance”. The Japanese Air Force wants to be a credible and strong partner and not a weak one. We also wish to ally ourselves with more countries that have credible forces and a strong presence.
[PP-29] Currently, there is an active U.S.-Japan joint exercise in the transformation program of the U.S. forces. I believe that this would not have happened if the SDF weren't capable or qualified to carry out such an exercise. In the future, I hope that there will be more joint exercises of this kind to re-enforce the SDF’s capacity. In conclusion, I would like to throw out four ideas for discussion.
[PP-30] 1, Japan’s military awakening has begun at the front lines, and I hope it will spill over to the rest of Japan. Japan needs to apply those lessons to Japan’s contingency plans and break with previous restrictions against the deployment of Japanese forces.
[PP-31] 2, Japan needs to take on more risks and tasks, and the U.S. needs to facilitate Japan’s efforts to improve its military. Japan’s military awakening is not a threat to friendly nations, but in fact can be of help to those nations.
[PP-32] 3, JASDF needs to better prepare their forces to work together with U.S. forces, and U.S. needs to more openly share its front line experiences and technologies to enable Japan to be a better partner.
[PP-33] 4, And finally, I believe that a solid U.S.-Japan alliance will be vital for our peace and prosperity. Is it possible for us to build such an alliance as that of the U.S.-U.K.?
[PP-34] I would like to thank you all for listening so attentively. Please excuse any mistakes in my briefing as I am much more comfortable in the air than I am behind a chair. I will try to answer any questions you have. END