On November 29, Sasakawa USA’s RISE members participated in the RISE event, “Reflections on the First JSDF Deployment to Iraq” with LTG Koichiro Bansho, 35th commanding general, Western Army, Japan Ground Self Defense Force (Ret.) at the Old Ambassador’s Residence at the Embassy of Japan. The event was moderated by Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, chairman and president of Sasakawa USA.
LTG Bansho led and commanded the JSDF’s 1st Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group on the ground during the JSDF’s first non-peacekeeping deployment overseas in Iraq. This deployment was based on the “Special Legislation on Iraq” and took place between 2004 and 2009. It was designed to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to the Iraqi nation during the Iraq War, as well as to support peace and security in Samawah, a southern city in Iraq. Although the JSDF’s operations were limited to “non-combat zones,” it was the first time the JSDF was deployed in a broader conflict situation, becoming a turning point in the SDF’s development as a security partner.
This dinner discussion was held on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the JSDF’s first deployment to Iraq and was a part of a series of planned Sasakawa USA events and meetings for which Sasakawa USA invited LTG Bansho to reflect on the JSDF’s operations in Iraq and discuss potential new roles and responsibilities for the JSDF to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance.
This iteration of RISE welcomed not only LTG Bansho and Sasakawa USA’s own RISE members, but also saw the attendance of three military attachés from the Defense Section of the Embassy of Japan. The military attachés in attendance were RADM Takaaki Hayamizu, defense and naval attaché, JSDF; Col. Satoshi Masaka, military attaché, JGSDF; and LTC Takahiro Ota, assistant military attaché, JGSDF. RISE members thus had the opportunity to engage with LTG Bansho, as well as the military attachés, making for an exciting addition to the dinner discussion.
This RISE was represented by graduate students, think tank workers, Congressional staffers, U.S. and Japanese military personal (active and retired), and employees from several U.S. and Japanese government organizations.
Sasakawa USA’s Rising Indo-Pacific Security Experts (RISE) group is a network of young and emerging Indo-Pacific security experts, whose research and professional development Sasakawa USA strives to support through networking and dialogue in the DC area.