The Reorganization Of The Division CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues THE REORGANIZATION OF THE DIVISION Submitted to The Marine Corps Command and Staff College Quantico, Virginia In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for Written Communications LtCol. A. SANO Japan Ground Self-Defense Force April 6, 1984 THE REORGANIZATION OF THE DIVISION At the end of World War II (WW II) all of Japan's military forces were demobilized as one of the conditions of surrender. The present day Self-Defense Force, with a strength of 75,000, grew out of the National Police Reserve which was set up to maintain the peace of Japan in 1950 when the Korean War broke out.1 The National Police Reserve was reorganized as the National Safety Force two years later, in 1952, and the authorized strength increased in number to 117,590.2 In October of 1953, based on the Ikeda-Robertson talks, a joint statement between Japan and the U.S. for the gradual increase in Japan's self-defense strength in accordance with the U.S.'s withdrawal from Far East was issued.3 Then the Defense Agency was established and ground, maritime and air self-defense forces were inaugurated on July 1, 1954.4 The Defense Agency Establishment Law proclaimed that the Self- Defense Forces had the authorized personnel strength as follows: ground -- 130,000, maritime -- 15,808 and air force -- 6,287.5 Since today's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) came into existence, the Defense Agency has made an effort to modernize the equipment and increase defense capability. Recently Japan's defense policy was founded on the "Basic Policy for National Defense" adopted by the Cabinet in May 1957. On the basis of this policy, Japan carried out four three- or four-year defense buildup plans with a view to building up by stages an effective defense capability in a manner commensurate with it's national strength and domestic conditions. When the fourth Defense Buildup Plan was completed in 1976, the Government adopted the "National Defense Program Outline" at a meeting on the National Defense Council and of the Cabinet.6 Unlike the previous defense buildup plans which set specific goals to be achieved within a fixed period of time, the "outline" set forth guidelines for Japan's defense and constituted criteria for management and operations of the Self-Defense Forces. Japan's defense buildup in FY 1977 and thereafter has been carried out according to the "outline". Meanwhile the personnel strength of the Ground Self- Defense Force (GSDF), which was originally 75,000, has gradually but steadily increased to 110,000 in 1952, 130,000 in 1954, and 180,000 today.7 There are five armies, 13 divisions and two combined brigades in the GSDF. Today's posture of the GSDF was basically established in 1962 when the second Defense Buildup Plan was executed. In contrast, most major nations realize that military power is an indispensable factor to their national security and are constantly building up their military power in terms of both quality and guantity. As far as armies are concerned, they have reorganized their divisions several times after WW II to keep up with the change of strategy, tactics and equipment. To keep up with these circumstances, the JGSDF would not be able to improve its defense capability unless its divisions are reorganized. I. Characteristics of the Ground Defense of Japan A. Significance of the Ground Defense Capability First of all, we must keep the geographical features in mind. As shown in Figure 1,8 Japan is a Click here to view image narrowly shaped, sea-girt archipelago located in north- eastern Asia. An aggression against this island country would have to pass waters or airspace but would be able to occur in almost any part of this country. Secondly, Japan's policy of conducting her military operations exclusively for self-defense makes it imperative that Japan's Self-Defense Forces be the passive party in a military action. Thirdly, since she has this exclusive self-defense policy, the battle must take place on her land with the Japanese people becoming involved. Fourthly, the SDF personnel are appointed under a volunteer system. As such, this system differs fundamentally from the national conscription system whereby citizens are forced to undergo military service. Under this volunteer system, the SDF must continue to recruit new members in order to maintain its organization. Fifthly, the defense of Japan is based on the arrangement treaty with the U.S. To make sure of her peace, Japan has to complete a defense setup to protect against all conceivable forms of aggression including invasion using nuclear weapons and invasion using conventional weapons. However, Japan cannot complete such a defense setup unassisted. Japan strongly depends on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. B. Characteristics of the Ground Defense of Japan (1) Since the agression against this island country can be estimated in almost any part of the country, the GSDF has to deploy balanced units so that it can conduct defense operations from the outset. In addition, because Japan is surrounded by sea, the main effort of the defense operations is focused on how to fight against the invasion from sea or air. Therefore, the GSDF has to possess not only the ability to systematize the defense power but also the strategic mobility. This is necessary so that the units deployed in the entire country can gather to the area the invasion takes place as early as possible. (2) Since the defense policy of Japan is exclusively self-defense and passive, it is necessary to improve and maintain combat readiness so that the GSDF can conduct the defense operation successfully whenever and wherever the aggression takes place. Japan's defense policy does not allow the GSDF to attack or invade the aggressor's territory nor does it allow prevention and containment attack. Consequently, the GSDF can achieve the mission of breaking up the aggressor's intention only by the destruction of enemy units which have invaded Japanese territory. (3) Should an aggression take place, the supreme mission of the SDF is to prevent the fighting from spreading to her land and prevent people from becoming involved. Therefore, the GSDF has to try to localize the fighting area and the casualties. On the other hand, the GSDF is called as the last resort of national defense for the Japanese people to defend their country even if the homeland has turned into a battlefield. This means that the GSDF must conduct the defense operation in and around the waters edge or coastline in order to minimize the extent of the enemy's invasion on Japan. (4) Considering the short-term volunteer appoint- ment system for the SDF at a time when this country maintains the traditional practice of lifelong employment, it is difficult to recruit members not only active duty but also reserve. These facts make it more difficult for the organization of units to work effectively, systematically, and to maintain sustainable manpower during an emergency situation, even if they are mobilized. Consequently, the GSDF has to make up for the short-term war strategy. (5) From the Japan-U.S. cooperation standpoint during an emergency situation, Japan relies upon the U.S.'s nuclear deterrent power to counter nuclear threats, and also depends on the U.S. to counterattack against the aggressor's base. The GSDF's mission is to take good advantage of the country's geographical features and gain direct control over them. Therefore, when cooperation from the U.S. is introduced, it is essential that the GSDF conducts the organized fighting to assist the U.S. ground forces. II. The Posture of the GSDF A. The Posture of the National Defense As I stated earlier, Japan's defense buildup in FY 1977 and thereafter has been carried out according to the "Outline". The "Outline" consists of (1) objectives, (2) international situations, (3) basic defense concepts, (4) the posture of national defense, (5) the posture of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Force, (6) basic policies and matters to be considered in building up defense capabilities. The "Outline" also has an annexed table specifying the scale of the organization and main equipment which the SDF intends to possess.9 In relation to the "Posture of National Defense", Japan will maintain her defense capability covering the following six points:10 - Warning and surveillance - Countering indirect aggression and unlawful actions by means of use of military power. - Countering direct military aggression - Command communications, transportation and rear support services - Education and training of personnel - Disaster-relief operations. B. The Posture of the Ground Self-Defense Force (1) First of all, the "Outline" says that the GSDF must "deploy balanced divisions and units in comformity with Japan's geographical features. This is so that it can conduct systematic defense operations swiftly and effectively from the outset of the aggression in any part of Japan."11 Accordingly, the GSDF deploys, in peace time, 12 divisions and two combined brigades (plus one armored division for mobile operation). These divisions and brigades have many functions necessary for ground combat, and are capable of independent combat activities over a certain period of time. A division is the largest organizational unit and is considered the basic unit. Being the key unit in the army, it is responsible for defending a specific area. Meanwhile, an army is the largest organizational unit under the direct control of the Director General of the Defense Agency. It is composed of the army headquarters, two to four divisions, supporting units and is responsible for defending a certain region against the enemy's direct and/or indirect aggression. The GSDF has five armies which are: the Northern Army located in Sapporo, the Northeastern Army in Sendai, the Eastern Army in Tokyo, the Middle Army in Itami, and the Western Army in Kumamoto. There are two types of divisions in accor- dance with the personnel strength. They are a 9,000-man Division and a 7,000-man Division which are composed of a division headquarters, three to four infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, a tank battalion and other units. The organization of a division is standardized because of its role of conducting systematic defense operations in any part of Japan. (2) The "outline" stipulates that the GSDF should possess at least one tactical unit each consisting of various troops which are operated mainly as mobile power" 12 The function of these troops is to cooperate with divisions and brigades and support and complement them as the occasion demands. The GSDF now has an armored division, an artillery brigade, an airborne brigade, and a helicopter brigade to perform these functions. The armored division is mainly organized as a tank corps. With its mobility and firepower, it performs mobile strike functions. The 7th Division, an armored division, was reorganized from a mechanized division in 1980. The artillery brigade generally supports regional units and divisions with its firepower. The airborne brigade performs various airborne operations such as a surprise drop on an important front. The helicopter brigade is equipped with transport helicopters and conducts airlifting of combat units and air supply. (3) The GSDF should also "possess surface-to-air missile units capable of low altitude air defense in important areas".13 Therefore, the GSDF has eight air defense groups equipped with "Improved HAWK". These units are engaged in the air defense of the politico-economic centers and are important places for transportation and communications. (4) The GSDF requires 180,000 servicemen in order to establish an airtight defense system.14 They form the necessary organizations with the above-mentioned key divisions and brigades as the nucleus. (5) The outline of the organization of the GSDF is shown in Table I.15 Click here to view image II. Present Conditions and Problems of the Division Since the divisions were organized in 1961, the equipment and weapons have been modernized year by year in accordance with the development of scientific technology and the economy of Japan. However, not only the personnel strength but also the structure has not changed. When organizing the division, their aim was that the division would have almost equal capability as the U.S.S.R motorized infantry division organized in 1959. However, the U.S.S.R. division has been reorganized several times and, consequently, the Japanese division has only about 40% of the combat power as that of the U.S.S.R. today. The comparison of the divisional strength of the main powers is shown in Table II.16 The main problems in Japan's divisions are as follows: A. Mobile Strike Power Mobile strike power plays an important role in checking and repelling of invading forces equipped primarily with tanks and armored vehicles and in destroying the enemy's airborne troops. Mobile strike power is attribut- able to tanks which provide firepower, mobility, armored protection, and constitute the main ground combat strength. Click here to view image The Tank Battalion has about 60 tanks and consists of four Tank Companies which are composed of three Tank Platoons. In comparison to other nations' divisions, the number of tanks Japan has, which is about one fourth of what other nations have, is extremely low. Regarding organization, other nations' divisions have enough units to combine with infantry units such as regiments or battalions. Japan's TKBn has enough Companies to combine with the Inf Regt but is not organized enough to attach the TK Platoons to the Inf Companies. It means a combined arms team the size of a company cannot be organized in the battlefield. B. Mobile Power With the development and diversification of weapons and equipment in recent years, battlefields tend to become wide in area, three dimentional and shift quickly from one place to another. The GSDF must possess efficient mobile power so that it may cover the long landing front line with its limited force of 180,000 troops and repulse the enemy attack. However, the infantry units which occupy more than 50% of the personnel strength of a division is not furnished with armored cars or trucks for transportation. In fact, this is a pure infantry unit. Certainly the transportation unit is organic to the division but has the capability to transport only one Infantry Rgt. This situation does not allow the division, especially the infantry unit, to move without the support of the army. C. Firepower Ground firepower such as field artillery and mortars plays a very important role in modern warfare which involves an increasingly wider area. In accordance with the major nations' tendency, the GSDF is making efforts to improve its performance of artillery by extending the firing range and increasing the rapidity and accuracy of firing. At the same time, it is trying to introduce self-propelled guns to improve mobility and strengthen armor protection. However, the quantity of artillery pieces is very low. The number of guns stay approximately at half as many as that of major nations. Antitank firepower has a very important role of checking attacks from the mechanized enemy. The antitank firepower of the Infantry Rgt has been strengthened with the introduction of 84 mm recoilless rifles. However, only one 84 mm RR per Infantry Platoon is not enough to meet the modern antitank battlefield. In contrast, major nations have more than one antitank gun and/or missile in their Infantry Squad (or Section). D. Anti-Aircraft Firepower Recently, the performance of aircraft has improved remarkably and attacks from the air can seriously affect ground combat. Major nations are establishing air defense network in depth, and trying to equip their ground forces with greater numbers of advanced firearms such as surface- to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns. Consequently, ground combat may be fought effectively even under heavy attack from the air. The GSDF is making efforts to modernize the anti- aircraft firepower of its divisions by equipping them with Type-81 short-range SAMs and portable SAMs. However, the Air Defense Bn has only four sets of short SAMs and they cannot give air coverage over the whole division area. When it comes to portable SAMs, the division possesses only about 20 sets and they are equipped only at the tank units and field artillery units. E. Other Functions In addition to the above-mentioned fighting functions, each of the divisions should be able to carry out such support functions as command and intelligence, elec- tronic communications, and mobile and logistics support in a balanced manner. However, the Japanese divisions do not have the capability to carry out electronic warfare. Today, logistical-support should be improved in accordance with introduction of new equipment so that the new advanced weapons and equipment may perform fully and effectively. The combat service support capability of divisions, however, is not enough. Especially the capabil- ity of intermediate level maintenance on division furnished equipment and of supply service support of Class III and V are not enough. III. The General Concept of the Reorganization of the Division A. The Probability of Drastic Reorganization As I stated earlier, the problems that the division possesses now are (1) to increase the combat power (2) to provide new functions, and (3) to increase the combat service support capability. It is necessary to reorganize the division structure dramatically in order to solve these problems. When the personnel strength of the division is increased 1.5 times as much as it is now, and equipment is furnished suitably for the organization, the division will possess an almost equivalent capability quantitatively and qualita- tively as compared to that of the U.S.S.R. There would be, however, many issues to be solved when we try to reorganize the division. Increase the authorized personnel strength of the GSDF When it comes to the reorganization of all 12 divisions, required personnel strength amounts to about 168,000. Now the total personnel of the 12 divisions is 98,000. The personnel strength of 180,000 men required for the GSDF is authorized not only by the National Defense Program Outline but also by the Defense Force Law. If the "Outline" is amended successfully, the strength will be increased. Otherwise, it is impossible because the basic goals of the Mid-term Defense Program Estimate for FY 83-87 is to complete both quantitatively and qualitatively in accordance with the "Outline". In addition, it is very difficult to amend the Defense Force Law to be approved by the Diet even if the "Outline" is changed. Fill the organization with the reserve personnel Today there are about 43,000 reserve troops in the GSDF. Even if the organization of the division is filled with 43,000 reserves, there should still be an increase of 37,000 active duty men. From the viewpoint of filling the division with reserves, much controversy would arise about combat readiness as well as the basic theory of the re- serves. Change the posture of the GSDF If we try to drastically reorganize the divisions within the personnel strength framework of 12 divisions, we have to cut down the number of divisions to eight. Compared to the total power of the 12 divisions, eight new divisions would have more combat power than the 12 divisions. However, each division is responsible not only for defending some prefectures against agression but also for relief and rescue operations in this area. Therefore, reduction to eight divisions seems to be very risky when taking the close relationship within the civilian society in peace time and the morale of the unit into consideration. On the other hand, the necessity of the 12 divisions in peace time as stated in the "Outline" would be denied. As discussed above, this is not feasible now or in the near future. B. The General Concept of the Reorganization of the Division Since it is very difficult to change the "180,000 men" and "12 divisions", we have to try to reorganize the divisions within the extent of today's GSDF posture. In other words, there is now a way to trade off the personnel from some units to others in the division so that we can achieve (1) increased combat power, (2) possess new functions, and (3) increased combat service support capability. First of all, we could reduce the personnel strength of the infantry units which have more than 50%. When the Rifle Squad with an authorized strength of 11 men is cut down to nine men, there arises two surplus personnel. Consequently, we could get almost 95 more per regiment, and about 380 per division. (1) Increase mobile power and antitank firepower In return, it is imperative to equip one armored personnel carrier and one 84 mmRR with the Infantry Squad in order to increase the mobile power and antitank firepower of the infantry unit. Thus, with the reorganiza- tion of the infantry unit, the antitank firepower would be increased three times more than it is today, although the personnel strength would be cut down. (2) Increase mobile strike power To solve the problem of the Tank Company consisting of three Tank Platoons making it impossible to attach one platoon to each Infantry Company, it is indispensable to increase one more platoon per company. Accordingly, the Tank Bn has about 75 tanks, which is 25% more mobile strike power. The required strength is about 90 men. (3) Increase artillery firepower From the standpoint of the characteristics of the modern battlefield, we have to increase the artillery firepower. The Artillery Rgt has four D S Bns (consisting of two batteries) and one G S Bn (consisting of four bat- teries). When we increase one piece per each battery, the Artillery Rgt can be equipped with about 60 howitzers, 20% more artillery firepower. The necessary personnel is about 200 men. (4) Increases air defense firepower It is necessary to increase the short-SAM sets by at least two more in order to cover the whole division operation area. The air-coverage by six short-SAM sets allow all ground combat units to maneuver safely from air attacks. In addition, for the self-air defense of each unit, portable SAM has to be equipped in each such as: the Infantry Company, the Engineer Company, etc. Reorgainzation of the Air Defense Bn requires about 60 personnel. (5) Other functions After increasing the combat power, we still have about 40 surplus personnel remaining. We can organize the EW unit and enhance the capability of the Ordnance Unit and the Quartermaster Unit, according to priorities, with the remaining surplus personnel. IV. Epilogue In accordance with this method, I believe that the division will be able to have about 25% more combat power than now and improve each function respectively. I do not think this concept can be adopted easily because the T.O.E. of the division is established by the Self Defense Force Law and the Cabinet Ordinance. However, we have to explain the necessity of modernizing the division in order to get the national consensus. Also, it is our role so that the GSDF as the combat group can accomplish our mission in the battlefield. Of course, I believe the drastic reorganization is the best way to meet the pure necessity of defense operations. We have to study more about better organization of the division until the time comes that the domestic as well as the international circumstances will allow us to reorganize as such. FOOTNOTES 1 Asagumo Shimbunsha (Press) Inc., Defense Handbook 1983, March 25, 1983, p. 118. 2 Ibid. 3 The Defense Agency, Japan, Defense of Japan 1982, September, 1982, p. 356. 4 Ibid. 5 Asagumo Shimbunsha (Press) Inc., Defense Handbook 1983, March 25, 1983, p. 119. 6 The Defense Agency, Japan, Defense of Japan 1982, September, 1982, p. 362. 7 Asagumo Shimbunsha (Press) Inc., Defense Handbook 1983, March 25, 1983, p. 118, p. 119, p. 121. 8 The Defense Agency, Japan, Defense of Japan 1982 September, 1982, p. 55. 9 Ibid, p. 293 through P.300. 10 Ibid, p. 296 through p. 297. 11 Ibid, p. 297. 12 Ibid, p. 298. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid, p. 300. 15 Ibid, p. 378. 16 Ibid, p. 97. BIBLIOGRAPHY Asagumo Shimbunsha (Press) Inc. Defense Handbook 1983, March 25, 1983. Asagumo Shimbunsha (Press) Inc. Military Balance 1982-1983. The International Institute for Strategic Studies, November 30, 1982. The Defense Agency, Japan. Defense of Japan 1982, September 1982.
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