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III Marine Expeditionary Force


III Marine Expeditionary Force

Forward, Faithful, Focused

Frequently Asked Questions

「よくある質問」を日本語で読む (to view this in Japanese, please visit): http://www.japan.marines.mil/FAQ/ 


Q: What is the Marine Corps?

Q: What is the mission of III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF)?

Q: What is a precautionary landing?

Q: Are you allowed to fly at night?

Q: Why do you have to train?  Isn’t your presence here enough?

Q: How is the U.S. military reducing its presence on Okinawa?

Q: What noise restrictions are you required to follow?

Q: Why do F/A-18’s and F-35B’s fly in and out of Futenma?

Q: When will you leave Marine Corps Air Station Futenma?

Q: Where are you allowed to conduct parachute drop training?

Q: Why wouldn’t you be able to use Ie Jima for parachute drop training?

Q: Does the Status of Forces Agreement give U.S. servicemembers immunity from the law?

Q: How safe is the MV-22 Osprey?

Q: How do you integrate with Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF)?


What is the Marine Corps?

The United States Marine Corps is a service within the Department of the Navy and is the “ready force” of the United States’ armed services. 

The United States Marine Corps is specifically organized for rapid deployment in response to crises, natural or manmade.  These operations span a vast range from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to forcible entry, airfield and port seizures, and combat operations.  True to their title of the “ready force,” Marines are able to respond quickly and hold aggression at bay.  This gives decision makers time and space to determine follow-on actions and enables the mobilization of additional forces.  

Marines operate as Marine Air Ground Task Forces.  These task forces are self-sustainable and able to be scaled to the needs of the mission.  They are comprised of ground, air, and logistics elements all united under one command.  For example, a Marine Expeditionary Unit is a battalion landing team (ground), a composite squadron (air), and a logistics battalion all united under one command and deployed on Navy ships.  There are seven Marine Expeditionary Units.  A Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) is larger than a Marine Expeditionary Unit and is comprised of a division (ground), an aircraft wing (air), a logistics group (logistics, supply, maintenance, transportation, health services, general engineering, etc.), and an information group all united under one command.  There are three Marine Expeditionary Forces.






海兵隊員は、海兵空陸機動部隊(MAGTF)として活動しています。MAGTFには自己完結性があり、任務の 必要性に合わせて部隊の拡張や縮小を行うことができます。MAGTF は、1 つの指揮の下に地上・航空・兵站部隊がすべて統合された形で構成されています。たとえば、海兵遠征部隊(MEU)は、大隊上陸チーム(地上)と混成飛行中隊(航空)、兵站部隊がすべて 1 つの指揮の下に統合され、海軍の船舶に配備されています。

MEU は現在、7 つの部隊があります。海兵遠征軍(MEF)は、MEU よりも規模が大きく、1 個の海兵師団(地上)と1 個の海兵航空団(航空)、1個の海兵兵站群 (兵站・補給・整備・輸送・医療業務・工学全般など)、情報群が 1 つの指揮の下に統合されて成り立っています。現在、3 つの MEF が編成されています。


What is the mission of III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF)?

III MEF provides the United States with a forward-deployed “ready force” in the Pacific Theater.  It is a globally responsive and scalable Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of generating, deploying, and employing forces for the full range of military operations.

III Marine Expeditionary Force is one of three Marine Expeditionary Forces in the Marine Corps and is the only forward-deployed one.  It is headquartered in Okinawa and contains forces in Hawaii and Japan (Okinawa and Iwakuni).  It is comprised of 3d Marine Division (ground), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (air), 3d Marine Logistics Group (logistics, supply, maintenance, transportation, health services, general engineering, etc.), and III MEF Information Group


3海兵遠征軍 (III MEF) のミッションとは?


第3海兵遠征軍は、海兵隊に3つある海兵遠征軍のひとつで、唯一前方展開されているものです。沖縄に本部があり、ハワイと日本 (沖縄と岩国) の部隊がそこに含まれます。第3海兵師団 (陸上部隊) 、 第1海兵航空団 (航空部隊) 、第3海兵兵站群 (後方支援、補給、メンテナンス、輸送、医療サービス、エンジニアリング全般など) 、第3海兵遠征軍情報グループで構成されています。


What is a precautionary landing?

A precautionary landing is a safe premeditated landing, on or off an airport, when further flight is possible but inadvisable. Examples of conditions that may call for a precautionary landing include deteriorating weather, being lost, fuel shortage, or gradually developing engine trouble. 

A forced landing is an immediate landing, on or off an airport, necessitated by the inability to continue further flight. A typical example of which is an airplane forced down by engine failure.

Ditching is a forced or precautionary landing on water.

Generally, a precautionary landing is less hazardous than a forced landing because the pilot has more time for terrain selection and the planning of the approach safely.







Are you allowed to fly at night?

We train in accordance with our bilateral agreements with the Government of Japan.  There are no times or days when we are prohibited from conducting training (to include flying); however, out of consideration for the base-hosting communities, we do our best to observe quiet hours between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and also during holidays and other days of cultural significance.


  When we do have to train at night, commanders do their best to ensure training is completed as early as practical.







Why do you have to train?  Isn’t your presence here enough?

Presence alone is not enough.

Readiness is very important to us, especially in the face of an increasingly complex regional security environment.  We do many things to mitigate the impact of our operations on local communities, but we also have a mission that requires a high state of readiness, which can only be achieved through realistic and rigorous training. 

For decades, the Indo-Pacific region has been largely peaceful. This was made possible by two things: the commitment of free nations to the rules-based international order and the credibility of the combat power within U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, of which III MEF is an integral part.

The credibility of this combat power comes from a ready force.  A ready force is created through training.







インド太平洋地域では数十年にわたりおおむね平和が保たれてきました。これを可能にしたのは、自由主義国がルールに基づく国際秩序の維持に力を注いできたこと、そしてIII MEF (3海兵遠征軍) が属するアメリカインド太平洋軍の戦闘力が信頼できるものであったこと、という2つの要因です。




How is the U.S. military reducing its presence on Okinawa?

The Marine Corps presence in Okinawa is being realigned as a result of the Defense Policy Review Initiative (DPRI). Realignment of U.S. forces under DPRI helps achieve a force posture that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable.

DPRI calls for approximately 9,000 Marines to be relocated from Okinawa to Guam and Hawaii. Additionally, completion of the Futenma Replacement Facility will enable the closure of MCAS Futenma in the southern part of Okinawa.

The United States has already returned some land in Okinawa to the Government of Japan and will continue to return lands and facilities consistent with the agreed implementation plans.

Further, Marines routinely deploy to mainland Japan as part of Government of Japan sponsored training relocation programs in order to lessen the impact of operations in Okinawa.

Finally, Marines often deploy around the region to train with partner nations as part of their mission to enhance regional peace and security.













What noise restrictions are you required to follow?

We train and operate in accordance with our bilateral agreements with the Government of Japan, including the 1996 agreement on noise abatement at MCAS Futnema.

We do our best to observe quiet hours between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and also during holidays and other days of cultural significance. Sometimes operational necessities require that we fly during those hours. 

Noise associated with aircraft operations is unavoidable given the need to maintain readiness for Japan’s defense and regional peace and security. One way to mitigate noise impacts is to have ingress and egress routes over water.  This will be possible once the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko is complete and our air operations have moved from Futenma.

For reference: A decibel is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound, it is a degree of loudness, recorded on a scale from zero to 140.  The higher the number, the louder the noise.

For context, leaves rustling or a whisper is about 30dB. Normal conversation is about 60dB. Heavy traffic or a noisy restaurant is about 80-89 dB. A loud rock concert is about 120 dB. A siren at 100 feet is about 140dB.













Why do F/A-18’s and F-35B’s fly in and out of Futenma?

Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is a U.S. installation and any U.S. military aircraft may use the air station if the mission is safe, necessary, and coordinated with the air station.

Our pilots conduct a variety of training to remain proficient at their skills and efficient at working with our joint services. We routinely conduct training at Kadena and other airbases to fulfill this requirement.







When will you leave Marine Corps Air Station Futenma?

We will continue to use Marine Corps Air Station Futenma until the Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko is complete. 

The Futenma Replacement Facility is the bilaterally agreed upon solution that addresses operational, political, financial, and strategic concerns; permits the operational readiness of our forward-positioned Marine Forces; and avoids the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The Government of Japan is responsible for the construction and completion of the facility at Henoko.

Specific questions regarding the timeline for completion should be addressed to the Ministry of Defense.










Where are you allowed to conduct parachute drop training?

Parachute drop training is designed to maintain the readiness of search and rescue units, special operations forces, and other U.S. forces to support treaty commitments to the defense of Japan and to ensure a free and open



We primarily conduct overland paradrop training at Ie Jima and over water paradrop training at Tsuken Jima.


The Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) and subsequent bilateral agreements established Ie Jima as the primary overland drop zone for U.S. military parachute drop training in Okinawa to replace the Yomitan drop zone.


Bilateral agreements between the U.S. and Japan allow for the use of Kadena Air Base as an alternate location when Ie Jima is not available to meet the immediate training needs of U.S. forces.


While the US military continues to use Ie Jima as the primary overland drop zone in accordance with the SACO agreement, the need to maintain readiness and currency of our forces in this highly specialized skill sometimes requires us to use Kadena Air Base.













Why wouldn’t you be able to use Ie Jima for parachute drop training?

Weather and sea state conditions are the main reasons we typically are unable to use the Ie Jima Drop Zone because using Ie Jima requires us to use safety boats.  If weather conditions are unfavorable or if the sea states don’t allow for safety boats, the training is either postponed or it must be conducted at an alternate location.

A contributing factor is the requirement to give two days’ notice for conducting parachute drop training at Ie Jima.  This requires us to predict what the sea states will be.

If the weather is nicer and the seas are calmer than predicted, we can’t switch back to jumping at Ie Jima after having made the decision to drop elsewhere.









Does the Status of Forces Agreement give U.S. service members immunity from the law?

This is perhaps the biggest myth related to the Status of Forces Agreement. All U.S. servicemembers are expected to obey U.S. and Japanese law and applicable policies at all times, and the overwhelming majority do so.

It simply is not true that SOFA-status personnel are exempt from Japanese laws, except under very narrow circumstances involving the performance of official duties. A SOFA status individual who is involved in misconduct in Japan would almost always be subjected to Japanese jurisdiction and prosecution unless the Government of Japan waived jurisdiction under SOFA Article XVII. (See https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/2.html). 

We work closely with local authorities in cases where our personnel are involved in misconduct. Often, if local prosecutors decide not to pursue a case, the U.S. military will hold that servicemember accountable for their actions through the Uniform Code of Military Justice or through administrative measures.









How safe is the MV-22 Osprey?

Conducting safe operations on the ground, in the air, and at sea is a top priority for all U.S. Forces in Japan.

To approve any aircraft for flight, we conduct regular inspections and maintenance.  Pilots and aircrew regularly receive extensive flight safety training and updates to their training in order to be qualified to fly. 

Further, the U.S. and Japanese Governments publicly acknowledged the safety of the Osprey in September 2012 via Joint Committee memorandum. https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/area/usa/sfa/pdfs/jc_mv22_2.pdf









How do you integrate with Japanese Self Defense Forces (JSDF)?

We work together at every level from small unit training to command post exercises all the way up to massive field training exercises involving multiple U.S. military and JSDF components. 

A few of the many engagements include: RIMPAC in Hawaii, Cobra Gold in Thailand, Khaan Quest in Mongolia, and in Japan: Yama Sakura, Forest Light, and annual artillery training exercises.

Additionally, III MEF is working closely with the JGSDF as it develops the capabilities of its Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB).

Working and training alongside our Japanese partners is important for improving interoperability and enhancing our capabilities.