Japan airborne brigade mulls drill to retake island

Japan airborne brigade mulls drill to retake island

By Mei Jingya, Sina English

Officers from the 1st Airborne Brigade of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF) said on Sunday they will stage a drill to “retake islands” controlled by enemies in January at the Camp Narashino in Chiba Prefecture.

The 1st Airborne Brigade is Japan’s only paratrooper unit. Training in 2013 will kick off on Jan.13. Previous drills were usually focused on airborne training.

According to Kyodo News, a number of scouts will land on “shores” of the imaginary island, namely the Narashino training field, followed by 40 airborne troops under the cover of the Air SDF and Martime SDF. Training staff will be required to wear life jackets and armed with rifles.

In August and September last year, the Ground SDF conducted two separate island-retaking drills with US marines at the Higashi-Fuji training range and Guam respectively.

Another Japan-US joint drill scheduled in November, 2012 on an inhibited island in Okinawa was canceled due to protest of the local government. A similar island-retaking drill was held in Iwo Jima in 1996.

Kyodo said troops stationed in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture are responsible for the offshore defense in Japan’s southwestern islands. But since their movement is confined to transport ships, the 1st airborne brigade may be dispatched to help them in case of emergency.

An officer at the Nagasaki base said he does not think there will be any urgent task at present, but they need to be fully prepared.