WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 44 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
SPECIAL REPORT / PARTNERS IN GLOBAL PRESENCE
Partner & Mentor
Marines help Japanese troops build an amphibious capability, hone skills
By GIDGET FUENTES, Special Correspondent
The group of Japanese troops gathered around the olive-drab litter bearing a Soldier with a simulated injured leg. They chatted as a
clipboard-bearing supervisor and several U.S. Marines
and Navy hospital corpsmen observed closely.
After several minutes, the litter team lifted the
patient and hustled into the MV- 22 Osprey tiltrotor
aircraft waiting to lift off the shipboard tarmac at
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and take
the patient to follow-on medical care. It seemed routine. But it was not when Hospital Corpsman 1st Class
(FMF) Benjamin Chapin, speaking through a translator, offered them some feedback.
The troops had brought the patient feet-first into
the Osprey, where racks would hold the litters three
high. The proper procedure is head-first, Chapin, an
instructor with Combat Logistics Battalion 11’s Health
Services Platoon, later told Seapower.
That is the feedback and
grassroots-level interaction commanders and enlisted leaders
expected during Iron Fist 2016, the
largest bilateral exercise the Marine
Corps conducts on the West Coast.
It ran from late January through late
Earlier that Feb. 26 morning,
Maj. Gen. Shinichi Aoki stood on
a sun-splashed bluff above Red
Beach and watched a dozen Assault
Amphibious Vehicles (AAVs) rush
His Japanese Soldiers were riding with infantry Marines in Marine
Corps AAVs. In the scenario, the joint
force attacked an opposed beach to
secure a town on a small “island”
that then would be the launch site
for the main objective. Once additional troops arrived on MV-22s, the
The scenarios, crafted by Japanese planners and developed with Marine Corps input, echo real Japanese fears.
The key U.S. ally and security treaty partner is rattled by
China’s military expansion and its ever-increasing reach
across the region, particularly in the South China Sea.
China has claimed vast rights to those waters and has
been more aggressive in patrolling them by ship and air
to ward off other military forces transiting or operating in
what are international waters. Japan also continues to face
growing threats from North Korea over disputed islands.
Japan’s once passive, defensive-heavy stance is changing. The government is reviewing its security posture
and moving ahead to expand defensive capabilities that
Strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance
With significant help from the U.S. Marine Corps, the Japan Self
Defense Force is building an amphibious force that relies on
the new MV- 22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and the aging Assault
Amphibious Vehicle (AAV).
n Japanese Soldiers got hands-on experience on the range, at
sea, riding in AAVs and Ospreys, and operating jointly with U.S.
Marines and Sailors during the recent annual Iron Fist bilateral
exercise in California.
n That ongoing relationship is seen as key to help Japan build a
“Gator Navy” capability and sort out interoperability and integration issues with joint forces — and also with Japan’s ground and
n The Marine Corps’ efforts to support Japan in the endeavor
include joint amphibious training exercises, assignment of Marine liaison officers and a robust exchange program for AAV familiarization.