New defense plan urges flexibility for new threats

A new defense strategy to be compiled by the end of the year will call for more flexibility focusing on new threats such as terrorism, according to a draft outline made available Sunday.

This would represent a major shift from the current policy of building up a minimum defense capability against limited scale foreign attacks.

The draft of the National Defense Program Outline proposes establishing a force supervised by the Defense Agency’s director general aimed at responding promptly to terrorism and guerrilla warfare.

The draft also proposes that international activities by the Self-Defense Forces be defined as one of its primary missions, instead of a secondary role as stipulated in the current defense strategy, which was compiled in 1995.

The draft calls for doubling the number of airborne refueling aircraft to eight to speed up deployment in international cooperation missions and establishing reserve forces that could be quickly dispatched overseas.

It also calls for strengthening the nation’s offensive capability by using sophisticated weapons.

The government has decided to revise the 1995 defense strategy to respond to new threats in light of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

The defense strategy, introduced in 1976 and revised in 1995, defines basic policy regarding planning and operational capabilities.

The new strategy would also be in line with the government’s decision last December to introduce a missile defense system by reducing the deployment of frontline equipment such as tanks and destroyers.

The draft says the number of tanks should be reduced to about 600 from the current 940.