JSDF’s Dispatch to the MFO
1. MFO: Multinational Force & Observers
After the 4th Middle-East War in 1973, the Peace Treaty between the State of Israel and the Arab Republic of Egypt (hereinafter - the Peace Treaty) was signed in March 1979. However, the UN Security Council did not approve of the establishment of a UN force and observer group according to that treaty. Against this backdrop, Egypt and Israel signed the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace through the agency of the United States, establishing the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) as an alternative to the envisioned UN force and observer group.
The MFO is headquartered in Rome. Its mission is to monitor the ceasefire between Egypt and Israel while facilitating confidence building efforts in the Sinai Peninsula.
Japan has provided financial support to the MFO since 1988 and, starting in April 2019, has dispatched two JGSDF officers to serve at the MFO headquarters.
2. Significance of the dispatch to the MFO
Since 1982, when its activities started, the MFO has contributed to peace and stability in the Middle East, a foundation of peace and prosperity for Japan, by facilitating confidence building between Egypt and Israel.
Dispatching JSDF personnel to the MFO headquarters further contributes to peace and stability in the Middle East, promotes cooperation with 12 other dispatching countries including the U.S., and provides fresh opportunities to develop human resources.
3. Duties of the JGSDF personnel at the MFO headquarters
The two personnel have been assigned to the Coordination and Liaison Department inside the Military Affairs Division headquarters at the South Camp in Sharm el-Sheikh, located in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
They act as liaison officers between Egypt and Israel. Other responsibilities include managing schedules and checking reports from other liaison members belonging to the Liaison Department. In the new living and working environment, they engage in their duties in an orderly manner, keeping close communication with their colleagues.
Recent Telephone Conferences
As COVID-19 has been impacting the defense cooperation between Japan and foreign countries, Defense Minister Kono; Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Yamazaki; and Chief of Staff, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Marumo held teleconferences with their counterparts in foreign countries.
Defense Minister’s Telephone Conferences
Minister Kono had teleconferences with Minister Parly of France on April 17th; with German Federal Minister of Defence, Kramp-Karrenbauer and U.S. Defense Secretary Esper on April 24th respectively. Moreover, he had a conversation with Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Ben Wallace of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on April 28th.
France, Germany and U.K.
In these telephone conversations, Minister Kono and respective ministers exchanged views on issues such as the roles to be played by the defense authorities given the global spread of COVID-19. Minister Kono explained the infection-preventative measures the JSDF have taken in their operation on the cruise ship Diamond Princess and analysis by the SDF Central Hospital using a presentation document on the JSDF engagement in response to COVID-19, and his counterparts also explained the situations in their respective countries. In the teleconference with Germany, Minister Kono touched upon a letter of thanks for JSDF medical care sent by a German couple, and Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer also showed her appreciation for the JSDF assistance.
Further, bearing in mind the circumstances arisen by the spread of COVID-19, Minister Kono and ministers of the three countries agreed on sharing information, knowledge and lessons learnt about the measures taken by defense authorities towards overcoming the virus; sharing threat recognition based on potential effects of the spread of the virus on defense policy of each country; and promoting vigorously defense cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo Pacific.
In the teleconference with U.S. Defense Secretary Esper on April 24th, the two ministers exchanged views on the response to COVID-19, the situations in the Indo-Pacific region including North Korea, and various issues regarding cooperation with the U.S. Forces in Japan.
Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Yamazaki’s Telephone Conferences
Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Yamazaki had a video teleconference with General Milley, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on April 15th; teleconferences with Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Air Chief Marshal Peach on April 21st and General Campbell, Chief of the Australian Defence Force on April 22nd respectively.
Through each of the teleconferences with the U.S. and Australia, the senior leaders exchanged views on ways to combat COVID-19, including the situation of the infection and countermeasures.
In addition, General Yamazaki and General Milley reaffirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance in the region and their commitment to continuing close military cooperation to deal with common challenges for peace and stability in the region and the international community.
General Yamazaki and General Campbell reaffirmed the importance of the Japan-Australia defense cooperation and their commitment to continuing close military cooperation to deal with common challenges for peace and stability in the region and the international community.
General Yamazaki and Air Chief Marshal Peach reaffirmed the importance of the Japan-NATO defense cooperation and their commitment to continuing close military cooperation to share the information by seizing opportunities for peace and stability in the region and the international community.
Chief of Staff, JASDF Marumo’s Telephone Conferences
Chief of Staff, JASDF Marumo had teleconferences with General Brown, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces on April 17th; with Lt Gen Paredes, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force on April 23rd; and with Lt Gen Schneider, Commander, 5th Air Force / U.S. Forces Japan and Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff, Indian Air Force on the 28th respectively. Furthermore, he had a video teleconference with air chiefs in the Indo-Pacific region on the 30th.
In these teleconferences, General Marumo shared problem awareness regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and other matters, and confirmed that they would share their knowledge and lessons learned through their prevention and response measures against the pandemic.
Further, in the respective teleconferences with General Brown and Lt Gen Schneider, General Marumo and the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance as the cornerstone in the region and their commitment to maintaining robust cooperation between the two air forces.
In other teleconferences with the Philippines, India and air chiefs in the Indo-Pacific region as well, General Marumo agreed on maintaining robust cooperation between air forces of each country in the region.
In each of these teleconferences, there were exchanges of views regarding the situation and impact of COVID-19 in each country, as well as the systems to prevent infection, among other matters. Amidst the disaster relief activities of the JSDF to respond to COVID-19, not a single member has been infected, and it is believed this is due to the JSDF’s practices (basics such as hand disinfection, wearing masks, virus protection measures, etc.). Information, lessons and knowledge gained through the JSDF’s activities have been published on the MOD/JSDF website and social media.
The previous month’s edition focused on the disaster relief activities regarding the cruise ship Diamond Princess and the returnees from Wuhan, China. On the ACTIVITIES page, we will cover the JSDF activities, intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, that have been completed or are currently underway, following the disaster relief order issued on March 28th.