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Japan eyes boosting ground troop communications with U.S. military
[February 16, 2014]

Japan eyes boosting ground troop communications with U.S. military

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO, Feb. 16 -- (Kyodo) _ Japan plans to boost communications between its Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. military using smartphone-type terminals, a Japanese Defense Ministry source said Sunday.

The Japanese government will create prototype software from April with the aim of fully rolling it out in fiscal 2018, the source said.

The move is in line with efforts to more closely coordinate operations between the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and U.S. troops, at a time Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to move forward discussions on allowing Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, or coming to the defense of an ally such as the United States if it is attacked.

The GSDF has previously communicated via radio or mobile phone but delays can result when communicating with personnel on frontline warships and fighters.

Use of the English language presents another major problem as troops may misunderstand instructions, the source said.

Japan and the United States have no common communication terminals. During joint exercises, Japanese troops sometimes borrow communications equipment from the U.S. military.

To address such problems, the GSDF began distributing special smartphone-type terminals jointly developed by major Japanese electronics manufacturer NEC Corp. and the U.S. private sector to troops in fiscal 2012, the source said.

With the devices, GSDF members can confirm onscreen users' current locations and exchange e-mails on strategy details.

Installing specially designed software would allow them to share sensitive data on a real-time basis with the U.S. military as well as personnel on Japanese warships and fighters, the source said.

Under the trial, starting fiscal 2016, reconnaissance personnel will simulate situations in which they spot enemies in woods and difficult locations, and inform command centers about the size of enemy forces.

Japan will check if the ground troops can also receive information from the U.S. military as well as Japanese warships and fighters, the source said.

Another software program may also be installed to enable the GSDF to share data with firefighters and police engaged in disaster relief operations, according to the source.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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