U.S., Japanese leaders at Zama plan to work closely on force protection issues
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Leaders of the U.S. and Japanese forces on Camp Zama signed an agreement Tuesday to work closer on the overall protection of the base and its associated installations.
U.S. Army Garrison-Japan commander Col. Garland H. Williams and Maj. Gen. Kikuyo Ichikawa, commander of the Ground Self-Defense Force 1st Engineer Brigade, signed a guard-and-protect agreement that allows the two forces to train together for the defense of the base they share.
Zama is the sixth base to sign a similar cooperative agreement, following Misawa Air Base, Sasebo Navy Base, Camp Foster on Okinawa, Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station and the U.S. Army Japan base at Kure.
The agreements are part of an arrangement between U.S. Forces Japan and the Japanese government established after Sept. 11, 2001, to formally collaborate on force protection and anti-terrorism efforts.
In the wake of the terror attacks in the States, Japan Self-Defense Forces members quickly augmented U.S. security. The agreements prepare both sides for more-effective future cooperation.
“We’ve got to figure out a common approach to force protection,” Williams said. “If you come at it from two directions, you’re going to have gaps.”
The two nations train together under the Mutual Aid Treaty to defend Japan from outside threats; the new agreement allows them to do so for the protection of individual bases. Each U.S. base has a Japanese force to partner with, said Lt. Col. Jacqueline B. Lett, U.S. Army-Japan operations officer, who helped prepare Tuesday’s agreement.
The arrangement works within the legalities of the status of forces agreement and other bilateral treaties.
“That had to be considered,” Lett said. “What we can and can’t do under SOFA.”
With the agreement signed, Ground Self-Defense Force members and U.S. servicemembers will hold one of the largest combined counterterrorism and force protection security exercises at Camp Zama and Sagami Depot next month.
The two forces will work together to meet a variety of contingencies, from a base breach to a major attack.
The agreement allows the two sides to focus their training to react more efficiently and to create seamless force protection, Ichikawa said.
The Zama-based Ground Self-Defense Force 4th Engineer Group — a subordinate of Ichikawa’s brigade — and U.S. soldiers will train June 21-23 at both Camp Zama and Sagami Depot, Williams said.