The Kanto Plain Consolidation Plan: A Case Study of Military Cost Reduction

By John G. McKay Jr.

December 13, 2011

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CONTENTS 

I. Introduction
II. Report by John G. McKay Jr.
III. Nautilus invites your responses


I. Introduction 

Publisher/Sponsor: Air War College Air University
Supplier: Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC)
Report Date: April 1975
Document Number: 5692
Box Number: 8

The study describes the political and economic conditions that impacted the U.S. Air Force basing posture in Tokyo, Japan in early 1970 and the plan that was developed to reduce these impacts. The main theme explains the formulation and successful implementation of this plan that was designed to preserve mission capability at reduced cost by consolidating widely scattered activities away from metropolitan Tokyo by fiscal year 1975. John G. McKay writes, “Perhaps this case study of a successful USAF plan and program will serve some useful purpose in future U.S. force posturing in that it records the methodology employed for achieving a significant cost-savings through dedicated and perserving efforts in effective resource management.”

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.

II. Report by John G. McKay Jr.

-“The Kanto Plain Consolidation Plan: A Case Study of Military Cost Reduction”

by John G. McKay Jr.

CHAPTER I

THE NEED FOR A PLAN

United States Military presence in Japan has varied in size over the years since the occupation era which followed World War II. Periodic force buildups during the Korean conflict in the early 50’s and the Pueblo crisis in 1968 combined to form an extensive military basing structure throughout the four main islands of Japan (fig 1). All U.S. military installations overseas were scrutinized for possible reductions as a result of public dissent expressed over U.S. involvement in the Indochina war and increasing Congressional pressures to deflate defense expenditures. To accommodate this budget pressure, the United States Air Force (USAF) embarked on an extensive realignment of its forces in Northeast Asia. In a three year period between early 1971 and 1973, USAF resource inNortheast Asia (primarily inclusive of Japan, South Korea, and Okinawa) were reduced by the following percentages:

Number of Aircraft……………………61%

Number of Facilities………………….50%

Manpower Spaces…………………….42%

Budget Expenditure…………………..28%

The initial step toward this massive reduction and realignment of USAF assets began in 1971 and was called “Operation Cherry Tree” [1]. Part of this plan called for the relocation of two tactical fighter wings from bases on the main island of Japan; one was relocated to Korea and the other to Okinawa…

Accrued Benefits

The entire planning process could not have been handled so quickly with the GOJ had the local commander (5AF/USAF) not been afforded the latitude to deal directly with the GOJ concerning the content and progress of the overall plan. Neither would the plan have proceded toward a logical and beneficial conclusion had not the GOJ been willing to cooperate so fully, in spite of the inflation trends, throughout the tenure of the plan. The accrued benefits, in terms of resource savings, are reflected on the charts and tables that follow (figs. 9, 10, and 11).

To the United States, other subsequent benefits of the consolidation plan can be summarized as follows:

  • Maximum closure of facilities prior to the energy crisis of October 1973.
  • Majority of personnel closer to work center, thus significantly reducing the time and distance personnel travel through increasingly more difficult traffic congestion on Tokyo’s thoroughfares.
  • Consolidation of numerou small operations enabled them to operate more efficiently with less manpower than before.
  • Administrative support costs for aerial (helicopter) and ground transportation is no significantly reduced since the headquarter’ relocated to Yokata Air Base.
  • The consolidation of support facilities also permits the USAF to allocate scarce resources (manpower and budget) to sustain the mission units and facilites which are vital to the defense mission in Northeast Asia.

To the Government of Japan, the major benefits of the KPCP can be summarized as follows:

  • The KPCP permitted the release of a large amount of valuable land in the metropolitan Tokyo area to the people of Japan.
  • Reduced the total presence of U.S. Forces personnel which had previously been scattered throughout metropolitan Tokyo, the nation’s capital city.
  • Eased the gold flow situation between U.S. and Japan, thereby reducing pressures on U.S. -Japan trade discussions.
  • Demonstrated to the U.S. that the GOJ is willing to share the burden of the U.S. defense commitment to Japan
  • The improved utility systems of the new construction has helped reduce the USAF’s ecological impact on the environment in Japan.

Besides realizing a significant monetary savings, the USAF has gained an extended utility of a key contingency base in Northeast Asia for which a large share of the credit can deservedly be attributed to the Government of Japan. This, plus the multi-service benefits in the offing on Okinawa which, as it appears at this point, will be financed by the GOJ, will constitute a sizable regional defense expenditure, significantly contributing to the defense and stability in the Northeast Asia region.

Perhaps this case study of a successful USAF plan and program will serve some useful purpose in future U.S. force posturing in that it records the methodology employed for achieving a significant cost-savings through dedicated and perserving efforts in effective resource management.

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III. Nautilus invites your responses

The Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network invites your responses to this report. Please send responses to: bscott@nautilus.org. Responses will be considered for redistribution to the network only if they include the author’s name, affiliation, and explicit consent.