Sun, Sep 03, 2006 - Page 9 News List

Kim Jong-il helps accelerate US, Japanese plan to realign forces

By Richard Halloran

At Yokota, the Japanese Air Defense Command will move from nearby Fuchu by 2010. A joint command center was set up last December, tested in exercises during the winter, and was operative gathering intelligence on the North Korean missile shoot.

One missile exploded shortly after launch, prompting an American quip: "Six Scuds and a dud."

On the Japanese side, a lack of coordination and joint operations among the armed forces has long been a glaring weakness. Seeking to rectify that, Japan established a Joint Staff Office in March along the lines of the US joint staff in the Pentagon.

Japanese and US officers alike said, however, that Japan has far to go to acquire the habit of joint operations.

Wright said the joint coordination center was intended to speed communications among the Japan's Joint Staff Office, his headquarters at Yokota, and the US Pacific Command in Hawaii.

"Working together has tremendous power," he said in a recent TV interview. "One plus one equals much more than two."

Richard Halloran is a writer based in Hawaii.

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