In this Aug 3, 2022 photo, US Army's Pacific commander, General Charles Flynn, center, and Indonesian Armed Forces Chief General Andika Perkasa, left, inspect soldiers during the opening ceremony for annual joint combat exercises in Baturaja, South Sumatra province, Indonesia. (PHOTO / AP)
TOKYO – The US Army's Pacific commander, General Charles Flynn, said he is in no rush to withdraw rocket launchers and other equipment from a Japanese army base at the edge of the East China Sea even after the joint training they were used in ended.
"Some of the equipment we are just going to leave here" until the next joint drills, he told Reuters on a visit on Thursday to the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force base on Amami Oshima.
"It's an opportunity for us to keep capabilities forward," he added.
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Two more joint training exercises scheduled this year mean that equipment could remain in Amami for several more months. It includes two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that can fire projectiles up to 500 km.
Increasing the scale, the complexity, the size, the duration of the training that our forces must do together is probably a worthy investment from both the US and Japanese forces.
Gen Charles Flynn, US Army Pacific commander
Using training exercises such as the annual Orient Shield drill that just ended may be an easy and quick way for Washington to redeploy some forces in East Asia, even if only temporarily.
Opened in 2019, Camp Amami is one of a string of new bases Japan is building on its southwest islands for anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile units.
Flynn traveled to Amami with General Yoshihide Yoshida, the Japanese army's chief of staff, and his visit comes as Tokyo prepares to beef up its military.
Last month it unveiled a plan to field longer-range missiles as part of a substantial defense spending increase that will also provide more money for joint drills with US forces.
"Increasing the scale, the complexity, the size, the duration of the training that our forces must do together is probably a worthy investment from both the US and Japanese forces," Flynn said at a media roundtable in Tokyo on Friday.
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Another urgent priority for Japan, say military experts, is to increase munitions stockpiles.
"What you are seeing in Europe is a protracted fight, so, therefore, sustainment is an incredibly important wartime function," Flynn said. "It would be in everyone's interest to look at their stocks and locations,” he added.