CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan -- Just last week, Southwest Japan was tragically hit with 7.3 and 6.2 magnitude earthquakes. Currently, the Japanese Self-Defense Force and III Marine Expeditionary Force are conducting humanitarian assistance/ disaster relief efforts to help approximately 250,000 Japanese citizens displaced by the disaster. Most of them reside in Kumamoto, a city on the Japanese island of Kyushu.
Col. James R. Kennedy, the deputy assistant chief of staff with III MEF, discussed HADR response with a group of JSDF service members, currently students at the Joint Staff College April 19, 2016, at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.
“The Japanese military is trying to become more aligned with how the Marine Corps and U.S. Military are run,” said Maj. Eric Mattson, the Japanese observer exchange program officer with III MEF. “So, by coming to this class as part of their course, they can compare our military’s approach to the Japanese.”
Kennedy gave a brief covering the qualities and benefits of the Marine Air Ground Task Force, so the students could compare III MEF to the JSDF.
“We are expeditious,” said Kennedy. “What we mean by that is not just that we are able to move, but we are able to move in a self-sufficient manner. We are responsive. We are able to react very quickly to any manner of contingencies or disasters in our area.”
Mattson said the discussion was just a small part of the partnership between the JSDF and III MEF. During events like the recent earthquake, the partnership grows as U.S. Marines, Sailors and Japanese service members join forces to help those in need.
“These events really help foster those relationships and reveal better potential for the U.S. military and JSDF to respond to humanitarian disasters within Japan,” said Mattson.