Browsing the GSDF YouTube channel yesterday, I saw a new overhead graphic I hadn’t seen before:

Hey now, what in the corner? Is that what I think it is?

The GSDF is using MILES gear.

MILES, for those not aware, stands for Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System. It’s a system of sensors that are placed on people and vehicles (the black nubs on the helmets above are examples of the sensors. and lasers mounted on rifles, cannons, and missile launchers. It allows, say, an infantryman to shoot another infantryman with a laser mounted to his rifle, have the target’s laser register the kill, and mark that man as dead. The system is designed so that a tank can “destroy” another tank, but an infantryman’s rifle can’t kill a tank. MILES is much more realistic than traditional “bang–you’re it!” training.

Georgia Army National Guard M60A3 main battle tank outfitted for MILES. Note Hoffman Device above barrel to simulate tank gun fire. U.S. Army photo.

MILES has been around for a long time –30 years– so when I started studying the GSDF I was surprised that Japan didn’t widely use it. MILES being a combination of high technology and something American I was sure Japan would have picked up on it by now. Even the Irish Army uses it.

I’m new to the study of the GSDF in general, but one opinion I’d been slowly evolving was that GSDF training in general was just not realistic. Small units rush around, doing all the right things, but everyone’s firing blanks and it feels staged. Nobody is shooting back.

MILES teaches consequences, which is a lesson that an army that hasn’t seen combat since 1945 should learn before the shooting starts.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch