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Review of Japan-US Command and Control Frameworks Praised; Indo-Pacific Command Chief emphasizes the value of cooperation


Courtesy of the US Embassy in Tokyo
John Aquilino, the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, speaks in an interview at the official residence of the US ambassador to Japan on Tuesday.

John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, praised the decision by Japan and the United States to revise their respective command and control frameworks so that the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military can operate in a more integrated manner.

Regarding the agreement reached during the Japan-US summit on April 10, Aquilino said that “integrating our two nations militarily to the next step like this is absolutely the right path,” during a Tuesday interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun and other media at the official residence of the US Ambassador to Japan in Tokyo.

Command of entities such as Marine Corps units deployed to Okinawa Prefecture rests not with the commander of U.S. forces in Japan, but with the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command headquartered in Hawaii. It has been pointed out that the geographical distance and time difference could hinder coordination between Japan and the US in the event of an emergency.

The review of command and control frameworks aims to strengthen the command functions of US forces in Japan, to achieve faster coordination with the SDF.

Aquilino said the SDF and US forces are “already taking steps to be more interoperable and more synchronized” through exercises. “I think this initiative will allow us to see what that next step looks like,” he said.

One of the proposed measures is the establishment of a new joint task force in Japan. Aquilino said Defense Secretary Minoru Kihara and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “will look at this and provide options on what that looks like.”

Regarding the situation in East Asia, Aquilino expressed concern about China’s aggressive actions against other countries in the East and South China Seas, saying that things have “moved faster than I expected.”

Concerned about military ties between China, Russia and North Korea, Aquilino said: “The geopolitical environment we live in is not becoming safer, but more dangerous.”

He stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation as a countermeasure to such moves, which in addition to Japan and the United States also involve Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and other countries.

“One of the crucial values ​​we share with all these like-minded nations is the ability of sovereign nations to make sovereign choices. Now we all have the same belief that by working together we can prevent this conflict,” he said.

Aquilino became head of the US Indo-Pacific Command in April 2021. He will resign on May 3 and will be replaced by Admiral Samuel Paparo of the US Navy.

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