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GSDF - 1995 National Defense Program Outline

The National Defense Program Outline which determines Japan's defense capabilities, was reviewed and newly established in December 1995. Through a review of the troop structure, the Self-Defense Personnel of the GSDF was reduced from the current 180,000 to 160,000.

Some units may be staffed by new Self-Defense Force Reserve Personnel (Ready Reserve Personnel) capable of being quickly mobilized and to create a high-quality and effective system, will be established by 15,000 Ready Reserve Personnel, and 145,000 Regular Personnel.

A fundamental review of the troop structure, previously consisting of 13 divisions and 2 combined brigades stationed nationwide, resulted in a balanced deployment of divisions and brigades uniquely suited to the local circumstances of the area where each unit is deployed. Present 4 divisions and 2 combined brigades will be reorganized into new brigades. According to the Outline, the GSDF planned to reduce the four divisions belonging to the Northern Army (two divisions), the Northeastern Army (one division), and the Middle Army (one division) into brigade size and mobilize them, while maintaining the two divisions belonging to the Western Army as they are and turning the First Mixed Group into a brigade.

The previous Outline adopted the concept that Ground Self-Defense Force units to be deployed in peacetime should be deployed in conformity with Japan's geographical characteristics in a well-balanced way so that they can implement systematic defense operations from the outset of aggression in any part of Japan. Specifically, based on the concept that Japanese territory can be divided into 14 districts in light of Japan's geographical characteristics such as mountain ranges, rivers and straits, one division of the Ground Self-Defense Force was deployed in principle in each district while one combined brigade each was deployed in Shikoku and Okinawa. Accordingly, unit structure was of 12 divisions and two combined brigades.

The new Outline sets forth the deployment of eight divisions and six brigades based on the concept that divisions are deployed in districts which are of great importance from the viewpoint of defense and brigades are deployed in districts of relative importance so that divisions and brigades are deployed in an appropriate combination. This setup continues to be the previous Outline's concept that the GSDF units are deployed in conformity with Japan's geographical and other characteristics in order to be capable of implementing rapid and effective systematic defense operations from the outset of aggression, by taking into account the characteristics of each region, such as its proximity to other countries and its political and economic importance, and thereby leaving no room for regional or functional deficiencies.

Specifically, the new Outline sets forth the following deployment:

  • Regions where divisions are deployed
    • Region located close to other countries and embracing important straits (Soya, Tsugaru and Tsushima straits): northern Hokkaido, northern part of the Tohoku district and northern part of Kyushu
    • Politically and economically pivotal region (Kanto and Kansai districts)
    • Region that serves as base for conducting mobile reinforcement operations for the above-mentioned regions which is important from the viewpoint of defense: southern part of the Tohoku district, the Tokai and Hokuriku district and southern part of Kyushu
  • Regions where brigades are deployed
    • Regions considered of relative importance compared with above-mentioned regions from the viewpoint of defense (Eastern and central parts of Hokkaido and Okinawa)
    • Other regions (Koshinetsu and Chugoku districts, and Shikoku)

To enable regionally deployed units and other units to exercise their defense capability effectively, they should be supplemented, whenever necessary, by the mobile striking capability possessed by tank units, the airborne transport mobility possessed by helicopter units and various airborne operation capabilities. Accordingly, the GSDF, just as it did previously, must possess at least one tactical unit of each of various types of forces used mainly for mobile operation so that it will leave no room for functional deficiencies. Specifically, the GSDF must possess one tank-based armored division, one helicopter brigade equipped with a large type of transport helicopter and one airborne (parachute) brigade.

The ground-to-air missile units of the GSDF engages in air defense operations for units in aggression fronts, as well as for strategical mobile divisions. It also engages in air defense for politically and economically pivotal areas. The GSDF will continue to possess eight anti-aircraft artillery groups as the ground-to-air unit.

From the viewpoint of indicating the basic framework of ground defense capability, the new Outline gives in an annexed table the organized strength of Self-Defense Forces personnel needed to maintain the GSDF defense posture at 160,000. This organized strength is required to maintain major units including divisions, brigades and other main units, as well as supply depots and other logistic support units. Compared with the previous ceiling of 180,000, the new strength has been determined through reorganization of divisions into brigades and other means.

The GSDF units under the new structure are organized in principle by regular Self-Defense Forces personnel in order to maintain a high level of proficiency and to rapidly counter aggressions and other situations. However, from the viewpoint of maintaining personnel in an efficient manner in peacetime and ensuring the flexibility of smooth response to changes in situations, some units will be staffed mainly by high readiness Self-Defense Force Reservists (Ready Reserve Personnel). For example, three of four regiments of a division may be staffed by regular personnel which one regiment may be staffed mainly by Ready Reserve Personnel. Based on such a concept, 145,000 of the 160,000 members of the GSDF will be regular personnel and 15,000 will be Ready Reserve Personnel.

In regard to equipment of the GSDF, the new Outline, from the viewpoint of specifically showing the framework of ground-defense capability, describes in the Annexed Table the number of battle tanks and main artillery (howitzers rockets and SSM launchers), which are main equipment for the GSDF, in addition to the number of main units. Through reorganization of divisions into brigades and other measures, the quota of tanks was set at about 900, compared with 1,200 set in the previous Outline, and that of main artillery at 900, compared with 1,000 in the previous Outline.

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Page last modified: 27-12-2016 19:36:15 ZULU