Q & A with ASP commander
The Japan Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF, is slated to once again conduct their Annual Service Practice, or ASP, this fall. The ASP is designed to maintain and improve the skills of the Japanese servicemembers in using the Patriot missile system. According to Raytheon, Japan is among a dozen nations that uses the Patriot as part of its air defense program. JASDF Col. Kazuhiro Kojima, the ASP commander, arrived to Fort Bliss early this month and took a few moments with The Monitor to answer questions about their mission and their training.
Kojima: First of all, I appreciate all the people in the U.S. for the great help about the earthquake in Japan last year. And also as a member of allied forces I’m very impressed by the U.S. Soldiers who go to Afghanistan from Fort Bliss to carry out their mission and their families’ support, and I hope they return safely.
Monitor: What are your unit’s major roles and responsibilities?
K: Our roles and responsibilities are to evaluate our soldiers’ abilities who come from Japan and to support them so that they can work smoothly in Fort Bliss.
M: What do you hope to impart to the servicemembers of your unit training here?
K: One of the objectives of this exercise is to let them know the performance of the Patriot missile system by doing live-firing at McGregor Range. We would not be able to do so in Japan and then let them be ready for their next mission.
M: Have you been to Fort Bliss previously, and what types of advantages does this environment hold for your unit?
K: I had been working for three years as JASDF ASP liaison officer in Fort Bliss during 2001 to 2003, so I am quite familiar with Fort Bliss and McGregor Range, including White Sands Missile Range. There are many friends here because I have been working with [U.S. Army Patriot units]. So it is very convenient for me to work here.
M: What is your overall mission? What is your unit’s training mission while here?
K: Our overall mission is to improve units’ competency as a combat arm by providing JASDF Patriot units to exercise a series of movements to launch the missiles and so that they can improve their abilities. The missions of the support unit are to arrange the plan so that they conduct the mission smoothly and to evaluate the units’ ability to carry out the live-firing missions.
M: What is the most important reason for the training, and what do you hope the servicemembers take back with them from this training?
K: The most important thing is to make them strong by letting them experience the live-firing. I expect that they should gain the confidence through the live-firing that requires a lot of attention under the mental pressure.
M: Do you have anything to add?
K: I’m deeply grateful to personnel at Fort Bliss and the U.S. government such as LTPO, who have been helping us for cooperation and support for the JASDF. We could have improved the abilities to operate the Patriot missile system by using your range complex. Lately in Japan, the JASDF Patriot missile system is regarded as the vital asset to carry out the [ballistic missile defense] mission. We are grateful for your support toward our training and hope we will keep a good and strong relationship together.
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