The USMC and Japanese Defense: Shaping More Effective Capabilities


2013-06-27 The Japanese are reworking their defense capabilities to deal with the dynamics of change in the Pacific.  Better perimeter defense is crucial to deal with the various challenges in the Pacific.

The new “dynamic defense” approach fits in very well with the USMC role in the Pivot to the Pacific.

As Lt. General Robling, MARFORPAC, has commented:

SLD: Recently we looked at the kind of reform the Australian Army is undergoing with changes associated with amphibious lift and other approaches to greater mobility.  How important is the USN-USMC team to the kind of land power reforms going on in the region? 

Lt. General Robling:  All of our forces are important to the security of this region, but I believe the USN-USMC team is strategically more important than any of the others. 

While seven of the 10 largest land armies in the world reside in the Pacific region, many of those Armies  are now concentrating on their territorial boarders.  Many of their territorial defense lines are bordered on oceans or sea lanes.  This requires them to have a capability to police their boarders in the littorals and they are looking to the USN-USMC to help them to either fill in capability gaps or train or equip to do this on their own successfully. 

SLD: And the kind of transformation that the USMC has underway can meet needs effectively in the region as well.  For example, how does the Osprey play into the transformation approach? 

Lt. General Robling: Speed, range and presence are crucial to the kind of operations we participate in throughout the Pacific.  

The Osprey clearly fits perfectly into the types of missions we are tasked to perform. 

To illustrate hypothetically, if we were tasked to counter challenges in the South China sea, such as to bolster defense of Ayungin Shoal, also known internationally as Second Thomas Reef with one of treaty allies, the Philippines, the US has several options, but not all are efficient or even timely.  We could use USAF assets, such as a B-2 bombers or B-52 aircraft from Guam, or Navy surface or subsurface assets that are patrolling in the South China Sea, but the location of those assets may not provide timely arrival on station. 

But using the Osprey, we can fly down quickly from Okinawa with a platoon of well-trained Marines or SOF forces,  land on difficult terrain or shipping, and perform whatever tasked that may be required in not only a timely but efficient manner.

The Dawn Blitz exercise has been an opportunity to exercise allied and USN-USMC capabilities to operate with more flexible forces able to operate in the demanding Pacific defense conditions.

We have posted a number of slideshows and videos which highlights some of this training and can be found below: