WASHINGTON – In what will be the first such case, Japan and the United States are making arrangements to station Self-Defense Forces officers at key U.S. military organizations near Washington, U.S. government sources said Thursday.
The envisaged dispatch of SDF liaison officers is aimed at gaining firsthand information about U.S. military thinking as well as boosting bilateral cooperation in promptly responding to situations including disasters such as major earthquakes, emergencies in East Asia and pirate attacks, according to the sources.
The exact timing of the dispatch of SDF officers to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Office of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, has yet to be decided, they said.
The U.S. forces are keen to strengthen ties with Japan on the back of Washington’s strategic shift of focus to the Asia-Pacific region, bearing in mind the Chinese military’s growing assertiveness at sea.
In the past, the SDF stationed liaison officers at the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Virginia, and research institutes of various land, sea and air units.
SDF brass were also stationed as liaison officers at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, at the time of the Iraq war.
But no liaison officers have been dispatched from Japan during peacetime to the key units of the navy or air force.
Senior officers from Australia and Britain have already been sent to the units to share information and boost cooperation.
A U.S. government source said sending SDF officers to the core organizations that act as the brains of the navy and air force in the U.S. will make the SDF more familiar with the U.S. military’s mindset and strategy.
Under the plan, Air Self-Defense Force and Maritime Self-Defense Force officers are expected to be dispatched to offices that respectively assist the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
Joint GSDF-U.S. exercise
Ground Self-Defense Force troops will join U.S. Marines in exercises on the islands of Guam and Tinian in the Northern Marianas from Aug. 21 through Sept. 26, the GSDF said Thursday.
About 40 GSDF Western Army troops armed with rifles will join the III Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Okinawa.
This will be the first joint exercises on Tinian by the GSDF and the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The joint exercises are part of a cooperation program between the SDF and the U.S. military in countering the rise of China in the Asia-Pacific region.
The GSDF hopes the joint exercises will help it improve defense capabilities on remote islands.
The GSDF Western Army carried out joint exercises with the I Marine Expeditionary Force in California last January and February.