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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Cuts could harm future US crisis response: marine head
by Staff Writers
Simi Valley, United States (AFP) Nov 16, 2013


Japan sending almost 1,200 troops to typhoon-hit Philippines
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 16, 2013 - Japan will send almost 1,200 troops to join relief efforts in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines along with three warships, 10 planes and six helicopters, in the single largest aid deployment by the country's military.

About 1,170 members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will provide medical support and quarantine services, and transport relief goods, the ministry said in a statement posted on Friday.

Ten or so others will be based in Manila to coordinate relief operations with the Philippines and other countries.

The aircraft include seven C-130H transport planes, two KC-767 tanker planes and one U-4 multi-purpose support plane.

Japan initially dispatched 50 SDF members on Tuesday to assist in medical support and transport operations and said on Wednesday it was readying as many as 1,000 troops to go to the Philippines.

It is the first time Japanese troops have been active in Leyte since the island turned into one of the biggest battlegrounds of World War II, when US forces counter-invaded in 1944.

Many of the reinforcements were scheduled to leave Japan on Monday and arrive in the Philippines around Friday.

The 1,180-strong contingent will be the largest single relief operation team ever sent abroad by Japan's defence forces.

The previous record number was 925 sent in January 2005 to Sumatra after the Indonesian island was ravaged by a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami.

Previous overseas missions by the SDF, which adheres to the country's post-war pacifist constitution, have usually numbered in the hundreds.

They included UN peace-keeping missions in Cambodia and East Timor as well as logistical activities in Iraq and naval refuelling operations in the Indian Ocean to back the US military in Afghanistan.

In June this year, about 1,000 members from Japan's land, sea and air defence forces took part in joint amphibious landing exercises with US forces in the US state of California.

The drills were widely seen as aimed at coping with China's naval expansion while Tokyo was locked in a simmering row over a group of Japan-controlled Senkaku islands which Beijing also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

Budget cuts could threaten the US military's ability to respond to future Philippines typhoon-style aid crises, the head of America's Marine Corps said Saturday.

General James Amos touted the role the United States is playing in response to the latest disaster, with another 1,000 US Marines being deployed to support emergency relief operations in the Philippines following Super Typhoon Haiyan.

But he said America was not doing enough training and preparations for such natural disasters, and said budget restrictions and the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester could jeopardize future aid missions.

"We're not doing much of that right now, because it costs money. It's training and exercise money," he said at a defense conference in California, talking about practicing and preparing for natural disasters.

"Where I think the problem will come in will be the ability to have the money to deploy the ships," he told a small group of reporters.

"We may, although it's hard for me to imagine, get to a point where we say 'We can't do that, we can't help, because we don't have the... operation and maintenance money to be able to deploy those ships.'"

Amos noted that budget officials will call from doing "less with less" as they face the sequester.

But "I've got 43 years in this business, we're going to do the same with less," the Marine commandant said.

"We're a benevolent nation... (But) we could reach reach a point where quite frankly we don't have enough money to deploy or move."

The sequester was devised as a poison-pill austerity program in 2012, with mandatory cuts spread over 10 years aiming to force battling Republicans and Democrats to compromise on a long-term program to reduce the country's deficit.

But a deal never came and the White House was forced to lop $85 billion from spending between March and the end of the fiscal year on September 30, with nearly half of that from defense programs.

The first round of defense cuts under sequestration cut $37 billion in fiscal 2013 from the military, which is racing for $52 billion in additional cuts in fiscal 2014 -- about 10 percent of its budget.

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