Since mid-September, around 100,000 personnel, 20,000 vehicles and 120 aircraft have been participating in various exercises across the country, focused on operational readiness.
In recent years, the Indo-Pacific has become a focal point of regional tensions, with GSDF officials saying the security environment around Japan is at its worst since the end of World War II.
“This Ground Self-Defense Force exercise is really focused on improving operational effectiveness, deterrence and response capabilities,” said GSDF spokesman Colonel Noriko Yokota.
“Each unit is practicing to keep track of what is needed to achieve this goal. They are preparing themselves so that they can respond confidently when forced to take further action “
Without identifying any country by name, GSDF officials say regional powers are ready to change the status quo by force – and one country in particular continues to develop nuclear weapons, missiles and challenge non-proliferation systems.
“The current security environment around Japan is extremely critical,” said Lt Gen Yuichi Togashi, commanding general of the 2nd Division GSDF. “We, the Self-Defense Forces, need to increase the effectiveness of operations.”
build a defensive force
Troops from the GSDF 2nd Division in Asahikawa, Hokkaido traveled approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,242 mi) to the Hijudai Maneuvering Area in Oita Prefecture, Japan, to conduct defensive combat exercises.
Since arriving in September, he has spent weeks building logistic areas, command posts, battlefield positions and underground triage units. Some are built underground and all are covered in camouflage, which makes them difficult to identify.
GSDF officials say the exercise is not taking place to prepare for a possible conflict against a particular region or a particular country.
“(The) Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of Japanese territory, both in accordance with international law and historically,” Kishi said.
“There is no territorial dispute between Japan and other countries regarding the Senkaku Islands. Against Chinese action in the Senkaku Islands and other parts of the East China Sea, we must continue to send a strong message.
“As Japan’s Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces, we have to build up our military capabilities as well as respond to this situation.”
Soldiers training on the southern islands
In a notable departure from Japan’s post-World War II pacifism, the combat training portion of the drill in the Hijudai maneuvering area includes unscripted mock battle games.
The GSDF Second Division was divided into two teams to simulate attackers and defenders for the purpose of taking out rival fighters and practicing first aid.
Instead of live ammunition, soldiers on the ground are equipped with laser-firing simulation weapons. Soldiers’ uniforms, tanks and other vehicles are all lined with sensors that inform them if they have been killed or wounded by the enemy.
In simulated combat practice, if someone is killed, soldiers on the battlefield apply first aid to the field before transporting the person to a triage unit. Depending on the severity of the simulated injury, wounded soldiers are treated and returned to the battlefield or taken to a hospital to receive more specialized care.
Other troops are being deployed for exercises on Japan’s southern islands – Miyako Island, Amami Oshima and Yonaguni Island, which is only 234 kilometers (145 miles) from Taiwan.
“Deployment of troops in the Southwest region is a core concept of the Ground Self-Defense Force,” Yokota said. “We believe it is important for the SDF to deploy troops wherever they are needed.”
For Japan, these war games have never been more important.
“We now know that the security environment around Japan is unprecedentedly dire,” Yakota said.
“In this context, we, the Self-Defense Forces, are preparing for all kinds of contingencies, given that we have to respond to all kinds of situations.”
Since the founding of Japan’s GSDF in 1954, the force has never been involved in actual conflict – meaning such exercises are the closest members have ever come to fight a war. The exercise ends in mid-November.
Credit : www.cnn.com