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Media Availability with Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella in Tokyo

Presenters: Lieutenant General Salvatore "Sam" Angelella, Commander, U.S. Forces Japan
October 02, 2013

LT. GEN. SALVATORE ANGELELLA: All right. Well, thanks for giving me this opportunity. And I always look forward to telling everybody about the great work that your U.S. forces in Japan are doing.

And, first, I want to say, welcome to Tokyo, for those of you that maybe haven't been here for a while. And on behalf of, you know, our 50,000 servicemembers and civilians and contractors and our 50,000 family members, you know, we're glad you're here. This is a very big deal for us.

And I want to tell you a little bit about myself first. You can read my biography, but what you won't see is I have two children, 23 and 25, that graduated from high school in Japan, since I've been stationed here several times. My daughter actually went to kindergarten and 12th grade at the same school with many other schools in between. My son graduated from Misawa and my daughter graduated from Yokota. They're both going to be teachers. My daughter's teaching elementary school music, and my son wants to be a math teacher. He's working on his master's in New Jersey.

My wife's here with me in Tokyo. We live at Yokota Air Base, home of the 374th Airlift Wing. And, you know, despite my compatriots here all with Air Force uniforms on, USFJ is a joint command. We have U.S. Army Japan at Camp Zama, Commander Naval Forces Japan at Yokosuka, III MEF and Marine Forces Japan down in Okinawa, and, of course, I'm also the Fifth Air Force commander at Yokota, as air component.

We have -- we've really enjoyed it here. I've been here about 14 months this assignment. And I'll tell you a little bit about our joint mission, you know, as we support the president's mission to rebalance to the Pacific. You know, I want to make Japan the assignment of choice for the U.S. servicemember and civilian. We have a lot of great experiences over here. You know, my priorities as a USFJ commander are to transform the staff into more operationally focused, so that if something like Operation Tomodachi happens, we're ready at a moment's notice. You're all familiar with that, in 2011.

I also want to internalize everything that we learned during Operation Tomodachi, because, you know, our military assignments -- one to two to three years -- a lot of those people are leaving. Our civilians stay a little bit longer, so I want to internalize the lessons that we learned, and then, of course, one of our main missions here in Japan is to increase our bilateral cooperation and relations with Jieitai, or the Japan Self-Defense Force.

Since I've been here many times, I have a lot of personal friends in the Jieitai, the general officers, the CHOD, General Iwasaki was the vice chief of staff and the air defense commander at my last assignment. The current ground Self-Defense Force chief, General Iwate, I met him at Northern Army. Admiral Kawano, the Navy chief, the air chief, General Saito, we've all known each other in the past, which makes, you know, our differences and our disagreements a little bit easier to overcome and really increases -- it increases the cooperation.

I already mentioned that we are a joint command. But I also want to mention that, you know, this two-plus-two is especially important to us because we have such a good relationship with our embassy here. My first assignment as the aide to the commander of USFJ, I had my first experience in a U.S. embassy country team. And I kind of formulated my vision of how the military and the country team should work together. And I've graded other embassies around the world in my assignments on how the Japanese country team works.

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to talk to Caroline Kennedy in the states to prep -- in prep for her confirmation hearings and I really enjoyed that opportunity. Kurt Tong will be with us tomorrow, the deputy chief of mission, and we really have a great relationship.

I want to talk a little bit about some of the great things that your command has done here over the past year, you know, in preparation for these kinds of meetings. We've had great cooperation between the U.S. and the Japan Self-Defense Force, of course, in the face of the North Korean provocations and missile shots. At the Yokota Air Base, we actually have the air defense command for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. His office is a five-minute walk from my office, and so we have some great ballistic missile defense cooperation.

We do several joint and combined exercises to include field training exercises, Keen Sword, last year. We also have ongoing trilateral exercises with the Republic of Korea and Japan, and we encourage increased trilateral cooperation. And then also, this past year, we've -- last year, when former Secretary Panetta visited, he signed an agreement to put an additional TPY-2 radar in Kagoshima prefecture -- or, I'm sorry, KM, we say, and I think the coordination for that is also going well.

You're all very familiar with our move of the MV-22 Osprey to Okinawa and Futenma. I'm proud to say, we've been flying those safely here in mainland Japan, throughout the Pacific, from Okinawa and also in Okinawa for about a year now, and we've just completed the second deployment of the second squadron there.

A couple of unfortunate incidents. You know, we had a couple of fighters crash. Actually one on my first day in the job last July, an F-16 crashed in the northern Pacific. But because of the great cooperation between the Self-Defense Force and the U.S., and our personal relationships, I was able to pick up the phone, and I knew who to call, and, of course, they said, "Sam, don't worry about it. We already are talking to him and we're going to take care of him."

And then, of course, we had an F-15 crash off of Okinawa, and, of course, they were rescued by the Japan Self-Defense Force, as well. And we continue that kind of close cooperation.

A lot of community outreach, also. I want to give our family members some great credit. You know, we have some of the largest Special Olympics events in the world here in Japan, and we're real proud of that. And also you might be familiar with, in Okinawa, we have tsunami relief exercises. For example, a lot of our bases are on the high ground. So when a tsunami warning in Okinawa, what we would do is open the base gates and bring the population up to the high ground. And we're real pleased with how that's going.

So these are a lot of the great things that go on that I just want to brag about, you know, your servicemen and women and what they do here. So I've talked now, you know, for about ten minutes. I took up your time. My time is yours. It is an honor to be here as part of this meeting. It is very historic, the first true two-plus-two, with both secretaries and both ministers. And it's very important. I'm ready to take some of your questions. Thank you.

Yes, sir?

Q: Sir, could you talk a bit about the defense guidelines as they are and as you envision they might be in the future?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Okay, well, so this two-plus-two we're going to kick off, the new -- another review of the defense guidelines for cooperation. I can't really preview what the secretaries are going to say tomorrow. I will say, you know, as Secretary Hagel has said, it's a long process. Last time we did it, it took about 18 months. suspect, you know, we'll try to get it done in about that time or less.

You know, we will talk about, you know, the way that the peace and security situation in the Pacific has changed and evolved and what the roles and responsibilities of both nations in the alliance would be, what kind of capabilities each nation has and will have in the future. I can't really talk about the specifics of those capabilities, but you know really a lot of what the capabilities both nations have, how they interact with each other, and if there -- if there -- if are shortfalls that we see in the future, where those defense programs would go.

Yes, sir?

Q: So also at the two plus meeting, will you raise the issue of the Chinese in Senkaku – I mean will you guys -- secretary and the defense minister talk about how to deal with the Chinese authority and attitude in the region?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I think, you know, you can expect both of the defense ministers, the foreign minister, secretary of state, to talk about, you know, the security environment, and they probably talk about the Senkaku area specifically and encourage each other to settle that peacefully.

You know, as you know, our -- my Air Force chief of staff, General Welsh, was also just recently in China with the Pacific Air Forces commander, General Carlisle. And, of course, they talked to their Chinese leadership there, also encouraging them to settle these disputes. You know, China also will benefit from peace and stability in the Pacific.

Yes, sir?

Q: As the Boston Globe reporter in the room, I'd be remiss if I didn't follow up on your mention of future Ambassador Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy. I would just be interested in your quick take on how that's gone over here, what you hear from your Japanese counterparts in the military, but also on the political side.

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Well, I think, you know, they're excited about having Caroline Kennedy over here as the ambassador. I'm told that her confirmation was approved recently. I don't know if I'm mistaken or not. But I know she had her hearings.

Q: It's just in the subcommittee. It's got to go to the full Senate now.

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Okay. Okay. And so, you know, we're looking forward to that process continuing. And I think, you know, you'll probably hear a little bit about that this week, also. Very positive.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the cybersecurity situation here in Japan? Is it -- is it where it needs to be? And where do you see it going in the future?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I know that we're going to talk about cybersecurity this week. Both nations, there's always -- I think there's always room for increased cybersecurity. And I think that we will also recognize that there's room for increased cybersecurity cooperation. And we've been working on that for some -- some time, and I think what we'll try to do is institutionalize a little bit more of that, as well.

Q: Is it -- are there things that the U.S. can be doing that it's not able to do for some reason or another – that needs to be worked?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I'm not aware of that right now.

Yes, sir?

Q: General, what's the schedule for the TPY-2 radar to become operational? I was here with Secretary Panetta last year when he came, and actually -- I don't even think they picked a site when they announced it. It sounds like they have. How long -- where does that stand? And how long until it becomes operational? And how important will that be for ballistic missile defense integration?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I think -- I think tomorrow, we'll probably mention the date. You know, it's important for ballistic missile defense for both nations. And so I think that's why it's kind of on a fast timeline. And, you know, it's important for the U.S. homeland defense and also for situational awareness and for the defense of Japan, you know, when -- and our defense cooperation, of course, is in support of our alliance here. So I think you'll hear tomorrow about when we expect to have that completed.

Q: And forgive my ignorance. Are there any other land-based radars like that in Japanese territory or do we just use Aegis?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: There is. There is one up in Aomori prefecture at Shariki radar site. I was a wing commander at Misawa at the time when we -- when we brought that one there, and it really increased both nations' ballistic missile defense.

Q: Sorry, sir, but my geography knowledge of Japan is quite limited. So could you just specify where the sites --

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Okay. So the northern -- yeah, the northern -- the northern end of the main island, just short of Hokkaido, there's Aomori prefecture. There's a hatchet-shaped peninsula, if you will, and it's up there.

Q: Okay. And --

Q: But this new one is -- I mean, geographically, as Mathieu was saying, this is more useful for threats from North Korea. Is that fair to say?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Yes. That is fair to say.

Q: Okay. Okay.


Q: Well, can I -- will this allow you and Japan to become one of the queuing sections? If a Taepodong is fired against the United States, this radar will help you acquire, track and pass off to NORTHCOM as it makes it way toward the U.S.?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Yeah, without getting into operational details, you know, any additional radar or integration with the Japan integrated air defense system and -- and information-sharing agreement between the U.S. and Japan would enhance both countries. And so there's a lot of different capabilities.

You know, and, of course, this is another area where we're encouraging Japan and the Republic of Korea to have an information-sharing agreement, because both nations would benefit from different azimuth, different elevation capabilities of the ships, of the radars, and also of the coastal defense radars.

Q: There was a story yesterday in the paper that the president of Korea told Secretary Hagel that she doesn't want to meet with Prime Minister Abe because of the -- they won't acknowledge what -- the comfort women issue and some of the World War II atrocities. Is that still a major sticking point here from your vantage point that Japan is perceived not to be acknowledging all of its World War II conquest issues in the region that's angered people still?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Well, I think, you know, we have to respect each other's opinions, but, you know, I'm not familiar with that article or that discussion. And I think, you know, the secretary will have a meeting with the prime minister this week -- or tomorrow, also. And, you know, both sides have talked about it. And, you know we’re encouraging them to -- to try to understand each other's opinions and, you know, look to the future.

Q: But it means recognition of what the past atrocities -- is that the it that you're referring to?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't characterize it -- you know, I'm not going to grade past atrocities on either side, you know.

Q: Okay.


Q: General, I'm sorry. Just a quick question on the other radar. Do you know -- how long has that been there and is it of similar capabilities?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: The radar -- the northern radar?

Q: Right.

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Yeah, I can get you the date of when we put it in. I don't -- I don't remember. I was a wing commander up there. But, yeah, it's the same -- it's similar capability, just a different azimuth and, you know, it's all -- it's geometry.

Q: And to clarify; is there -- there's no agreement at this point to share information from either radar on Japanese territory with the Republic of Korea? Is that right? That's just something that's aspirational?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: That's true. Yeah.

Q: General -- sorry -- we think the Japanese government -- there is the opinion that SDF should have new capability that enables them to attack enemy bases maybe inside North Korea and China. So at the two-plus-two meetings, the two sides will exchange the views on this?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I don't know if they're going to talk about that. I know that the Japanese government is -- is considering, you know, re-evaluating the constitution and to -- to decide what capabilities they need. That's up to the Japanese citizens and the government to decide. And, you know, as we work through the guidelines, issues like that could come up. I don't know if they'll get into those specifics tomorrow.

Q: What's the situation with the Senkaku Islands? We haven't heard much in the United States. Are tensions kind of at a low point right now?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Well, yeah, I think that's a good indicator.

Q: I don't know. I'm asking you --

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Yeah. Yeah, if you -- if you're not hearing about it in the United States, that's probably a good indicator that the tensions -- I would say they're not low, but they're not elevated. They're higher than they were probably two or three years ago, not as high as they were last year. And, you know, they still are disputing the territory. We're going to encourage them, you know, to settle it, you know, peacefully.

Q: What do you attribute the lower level of tension to at this point compared to two years ago?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: The typhoon – no, I'm sorry. That was just a -- actually, that's true. Sometimes, you know, the rough waters down there, when there's typhoons, both sides will clear out. And I also think that both sides are -- you know, might be reaching out to each other. And we encourage them to do that, too.

If you remember, when Secretary Panetta came out last year, he was on his way to China. And so, you know, we continue to think -- encourage them to increase that dialogue, and that could possibly be affecting the level of tension, to being stable, I would say.

Q: Okay.

Q: Back on the radar issue, is there any need or interest in having additional anti-missile or missile defense systems put in location in Japan, either more radar or interceptors or anything like that?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I think as you -- you know, as you see the North Korea threat evolve and increase, there will be -- you know, we'll have to assess that, if we have, you know, enough interceptors to handle the threat. I'll tell you that, you know, right now, the -- Japan's Self-Defense Force and the U.S. together, you know, will be able to handle the threat to protect the citizens in Japan.

MR. GEORGE LITTLE: Any final questions anyone? General, thank you very much.

Q: I just had a question.


Q: How many forces --

Q: Just describe for us quickly, what is U.S. Forces Japan -- bases, facilities, how many people?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Okay. We have about 50,000 servicemembers and civilians throughout Japan, to include Okinawa. We've got another 50,000 family members and -- you know, in Fifth Air Force, I have three wings at Misawa, Yokota, and Kadena, with several different capabilities, all the way from reconnaissance to fighter to airlift to tanker.

You know, the marine forces, I've got -- III MEF is the major force down in Okinawa, headed by Lieutenant General John Wissler, the III MEF commander. He has a full complement of Marine Expeditionary Force down there, to include the Ospreys. He has KC-130 tankers. I'm not sure if the 46s are all gone yet, but he has also, you know, a full complement of the MEF.

Seventh Fleet is actually not part of U.S. Forces Japan. It is part of the Pacific fleet, though, based at Yokosuka, led by Vice Admiral Robert Thomas; very close coordination with him. My naval component commander, if you will, depending on the situation -- humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, crisis -- will be either him or Commander Naval Forces Japan, Rear Admiral Terry Kraft, also at Yokosuka.

There -- they are collocated with the – inaudible -- of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Admiral Matsushita, I've met him also; Vice Admiral. At Camp Zama, I have Major General Jim Boozer, U.S. Army, with probably about 2,000 Army forces throughout Japan, to include some special operators in Okinawa. And as I said, as a Fifth Air Force commander, dual-hatted as the U.S. Forces Japan commander, I'm at Yokota with my staff there.

I've got a staff at Yokota on -- my headquarters staff is about 200 on the U.S. Forces Japan side, about -- a little over 100 on the Fifth Air Force side. In the contingency and during exercises, you'll see, during Operation Tomodachi, where we helped the Japan relief effort, the staff will augment to upwards of 750 to, you know, 900 people, depending on the size of the operation.

And we have several bases in Japan. I'd be glad to do another event where I could show you where all those bases were. We also -- several of our bases are classified as United Nations Command rear bases, United Nations Command being stationed in Korea. And Yokota, Futenma, to name a few, are where they have -- they are part of the United Nations SOFA.

Q: I'm sorry. Can you just clarify? You said 50,000 servicemembers and civilians. How many servicemembers?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: I would -- I would have to look at it to tell you what the mix is.

Q: Okay.

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Mostly servicemembers.

Q: Mostly?


Q: Mostly.

Q: Do you have any plan to deploy the Global Hawk to Japan?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: You know, last year, we talked about, you know, working with Japan's Self-Defense Force to do that. And I think you'll hear a little bit about that maybe this week.

Q: Yeah, just -- could you just quickly update us on the political tensions on Okinawa and where those forces are and what's going on there?

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Well, you'll also hear about, again, tomorrow -- about the successful signing of the Okinawa consolidation plan. And so, you know, we have some land returns planned south of Kadena. You know, we want to consolidate a lot of our plans into some -- you know, give some of the real estate back to the Okinawan people.

You know, we're sensitive to their -- to their feelings and, you know, understand the impact that it has there. I also feel that, you know, national defense is a requirement, and so we're trying to help them understand that we're really there to help defend them against a threat.

And as you see, we talked a little bit about the tensions in Senkakus. The Senkakus is just a few hour flight from Okinawa. And so we want to make sure that we don't transfer the threat by, you know, leaving our forces. And we also have good cooperation with the Self-Defense Force who's stationed in Okinawa. They actually have their interceptors stationed at Naha Airport, which is just south of Kadena. So -- did I answer the question?

Q: Yeah. Yeah.


Q: So thank you very much.

Q: Thank you.

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: All right, well, thanks. If there's any follow-ups, you can, you know, get a hold of Dave, and I'd be glad -- you'll see me throughout the week, also. Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

LT. GEN. ANGELELLA: Have a good night.