With Exercises in Asia, U.S. Army Searches for Relevance

With exercises in Asia, U.S. Army searches for relevance By Anna Fifield November 8 at 10:15 AM CAMP KITA-ENIWA, JAPAN — First came the whistle, then the thud and the plumes of dust as the “mortar” landed in the area where the “enemy” had been spotted. The Japanese soldiers, having bundled out of tanks so they could lie in wait behind clumps of tall grass, then let loose. Two American Apache helicopters came in low to avoid detection, then suddenly soared up to (pretend to) unleash their weapon
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  With exercises in Asia, U.S. Army searches for relevance By Anna Field   November 8 at 1!1 A# CAMP KITA-ENIWA, JAPAN — First came the whistle, then the thud and the plumes ! dust as the mrtar# landed in the area where the enem$# had %een sptted&The Japanese sldiers, ha'in( %undled ut ! tan)s s the$ culd lie in wait %ehind clumps ! tall (rass, then let lse& Tw American Apache helicpters came in lw t a'id detectin, then suddenl$ sared up t *pretend t+ unleash their weapnr$ n the enem$ !rces&udspea)ers aln( the side ! the !ield, which sunded li)e Wrld War II relics, crac)led ut radi chatter in Japanese and En(lish& We ha'e e$es n the enem$ tan),#an American 'ice said&Its nt war, r e'en a 'er$ clse resem%lance t war& .ut in a re(in ! the wrld  where there are enu(h territrial disputes n the islands surrundin( Japan that  %attle smetimes !eels pssi%le, this is an e/ercise that re'eals tw militar$ !rces l)in( t rede!ine their missin& 0ne is American, the ther Japanese&  0n a recent !all da$, with !resh snw n the muntains here n the nrthern island ! 1))aid, American and Japanese sldiers were learnin( hw t wr) t(ether with di!!erent e2uipment, di!!erent capa%ilities and di!!erent lan(ua(es&The 0rient 3hield e/ercises, the latest iteratin ! which were held n this Japanese militar$ %ase, ended Frida$&The$ are ta)in( place at a time ! immense chan(e !r %th militaries4 the Japanese 3el!-5e!ense Frces, as the$ are !!iciall$ called, are (earin( up t ta)e n a %i((er rle in the re(in and e/pand their capa%ilities&Japans cnser'ati'e prime minister, 3hin6 A%e, has %een champinin( a reinterpretatin ! Japans pst-war paci!ist cnstitutin t allw the militar$ mre scpe t act, includin( %ein( a%le t aid ! its main all$ , the 7nited 3tates& A%e cnsiders this a !irst step tward Japan !inall$ shru((in( !! its wartime le(ac$ and %ecmin( a mre nrmal# cuntr$& At the same time, the 7&3& Arm$ is see)in( wa$s t remain rele'ant as the American militar$ pi'ts# tward Asia, where acrss a 'ast re(in %attles wuld %e !u(ht in the air r at sea — in an era, mre'er, ! increasin( pu%lic a'ersin t puttin( %ts n the (rund& “ The 7&3& is in a 2uandar$ 'er what t d with its land !rces,# said Patric) Crnin ! the Center !r a New American 3ecurit$& What is the rle ! (rund !rces when e'er$nes !cused n air, sea and c$%er8#3uch 2uestins are %ein( as)ed amid %ud(et cuts and an inward turn at hme&The Penta(n has annunced plans t cut Arm$ num%ers t 9:;,;;; trps, dwn !rm :<;,;;; at the hei(ht ! the wars in Ira2 and A!(hanistan& Currentl$, nl$ =>,;;; trps are depl$ed in the Asia-Paci!ic, and mre than =;,;;; ! them are in  3uth Krea, (uardin( a(ainst the Nrth Krean threat& At an Assciatin ! the 7&3& Arm$ cn!erence in Washin(tn last mnth, militar$ leaders tried t ma)e the case !r puttin( American !rces n the (rund acrss the  Asia-Paci!ic re(in t train and ad'ise allies& 5e!ense 3ecretar$ Chuc) 1a(el su((esteda new missin !r the Arm$ in this part ! the wrld4 as a castal de!ense !rce, drawin( n a 'enera%le Arm$ mdel that has its rts in the War ! ?@?=& “ The premier !rei(n plic$ initiati'e ! the 0%ama administratin is the re%alance t the Paci!ic,# said 3ctt 1arld, an Asia specialist at the and Crp& This has ccurred in the cnte/t ! the !iscal austerit$ and se2uestratin that has cut %illins ! dllars !rm ur de!ense %ud(et& The wa$ $u sa'e $ur pr(ram is t attach $ursel! t the pi't&# And part ! the Arm$s challen(e in the re(in is simpl$ histrical&Ben& 5u(las MacArthur, the American (eneral wh 'ersaw the pst-war ccupatin ! Japan and then cmmanded 7&3& trps durin( the Krean war, sp)e ut a(ainst  %ecmin( in'l'ed in a land war in Asia&%ert M& Bates, then de!ense secretar$, eched that pint in =;?? when addressin(  Arm$ cadets at West Pint& “ The 7&3& Arm$ in Japan has a crisis ! cn!idence& Its histr$ is ! ?+ in'adin(, =+ ccup$in( and >+ !i(htin( the Krean war !rm here,# Paul Biarra, a !rmer Penta(n e/pert n Japan wh nw runs a de!ense cnsultanc$, said durin( a recent 'isit t T)$& “  When the 7&3& Arm$ le!t ietnam, it le!t Asia %ehind and, with the e/ceptin ! a !ew !l)s in Krea, hasnt thu(ht a%ut DEast Asia since& It desnt )nw hw t thin) a%ut Asia,# he said&  E/ercises such as 0rient 3hield are a wa$ t tr$ t ma)e the Arm$ rele'ant in the Asia-Paci!ic theater a(ain, anal$sts said&0rient 3hield was the last stp !r the =nd 3tr$)er .ri(ade Cm%at Team !rm Jint .ase ewis-McChrd in Washin(tn state, which carried ut e/ercises in Mala$sia, Indnesia and then Japan as part ! the Arm$sPaci!ic Pathwa$s initiati'e& The new cncept is desi(ned t help small, a(ile units depl$ 2uic)l$ arund the re(in& A%ut ; percent ! the <;; American sldiers ta)in( part in the e/ercises had ne'er  %een depl$ed %e!re& 1undreds ! these )ids were in hi(h schl last $ear,# said Cl& uis Geisman, the American cmmander ! the e/ercise& A%ut H;; mem%ers ! Japans Brund 3el!-5e!ense Frce t) part, includin( thse !rm the <th Armred 5i'isin, Japans nl$ tan) unit&The e/ercises !cused n %ilateral peratins and impr'in( cm%at plannin(, as well as ust e/psin( these new recruits t sme practical e/perience& The tw !rces had separate chains ! cmmand and a %i( part ! the tw-wee) e/ercises was simpl$ s$nchrni6in( their m'ements& “  Were !i(urin( ut what wr)s and what desnt wr),# Geisman said& Were wr)in(  with tw di!!erent wa$s ! (ettin( t missin accmplished& #Indeed, the Arm$ sees itsel! as ha'in( a crucial rle t pla$ in Asia& “ I! $u l) n a map, $u see a lt ! %lue, %ut human %ein(s still li'e n land,# said Cl& umi Nielsn-Breen ! the 7&3& Arm$ Paci!ic, %ased in 1awaii, ntin( that :; percent ! the wrlds ppulatin li'es n the Paci!ic im& “ The Arm$ is nt ut here %$ itsel!& Were part ! the 7&3& Paci!ic Cmmand&&&   and we all ha'e a rle t pla$,# she said&
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