As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano
Since its establishment in 1952, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force had concentrated on national defense under an “exclusively defense-oriented” policy. The international situation greatly changed after the Cold War, however, when it became increasingly difficult for countries to individually deal with global maritime challenges. At the end of the Gulf War in 1991 the JMSDF dispatched its minesweepers to the Persian Gulf in its first overseas deployment and it has since adapted its operations to the changing global security environment.
Today, large-scale armed forces continue to be concentrated; many countries are modernizing their militaries and increasing activities in surrounding areas. Japan therefore stresses active deterrence, which highlights operational use of defense forces to demonstrate our nation’s will and strong capabilities through peacetime activities. The concept is epoch-making in that it is different from the earlier concept that underscored the existence of a defense force per se. The JMSDF will reshape its defense force under this concept.
The JMSDF will build a force that possesses readiness, mobility, and flexibility and is reinforced by advanced military technology and intelligence capability. The force will emphasize the following efforts.
Effective deterrence and response: The JMSDF will follow trends of neighboring countries and ensure information supremacy through peacetime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Should contingencies occur, it will quickly and seamlessly respond as the situation unfolds. It will also flexibly operate its ships and aircraft to achieve efficient and economical ISR.
Deepened bi-/multi-lateral cooperation: The JMSDF conducts exercises and activities with its allies and partners, contributing to regional stability through counterpiracy operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and other activities. With most militaries under budgetary and personnel constraints, complementary cooperation is likely to become even more prevalent.
Minesweeping operations after the Gulf War in 1991 and refueling operations for ships deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom dramatically changed the JMSDF. Today, in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the Japanese people expect a great deal of the JMSDF. Those incidents reflect two major transformations of the SDF in the past 20 years. Given current economic and security conditions confronting most of the world, the JMSDF is likely to face some new challenge in the coming decade. It will therefore continue to hone its capabilities so it is ready to meet such contingencies as may arise.