Speaking with reporters following a joint training exercise between the U.S. and Japan, U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Charles Flynn indicated that the U.S. is in no hurry to remove rocket launchers and other equipment from a strategically located Japanese base in the East China Sea.
“It’s an opportunity for us to keep capabilities forward. Some of the equipment we are just going to leave here,” Flynn told Reuters, noting that the equipment would be kept at the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force base on Amami Oshima, a chain of islands that sit between the Japanese mainland and Taiwan.
The bilateral training exercise, known as Orient Shield 22, placed soldiers from Fort Wainwright’s 11th Airborne Division alongside troops from the Japanese Army. The joint operation saw Javelin, anti-tank, infantry and air assault drills carried out across the island nation.
It was the first time U.S. forces launched Javelin missiles in Japan, and provided another example of how prevalent the anti-tank munitions are in modern conflicts.
Ukraine’s military, which has wielded the precision weapon system to attack Russian tanks and other armored vehicles, has been given more than 5,000 Javelin missiles since the war broke out in February.
The gear being left behind in Japan, however — which, according to Reuters, includes two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS — will remain at Camp Amami until at least the next joint exercise, Flynn said.
The decision to keep strategically located munitions would allow the U.S. to better facilitate troop deployments and equipment distribution in the event of additional conflicts, such as those feared due to escalating tensions between China and Taiwan.
“What you are seeing in Europe is a protracted fight, so therefore sustainment is an incredibly important wartime function,” Flynn told Reuters.
“It would be in everyone’s interest to look at their stocks and locations.”
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master's candidate at New York University's Business & Economic Reporting program.