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Research Questions

  1. Why is Japan developing amphibious capabilities?
  2. What threats is the ARDB designed to respond to?
  3. To what extent is the ARDB relevant for supporting non-combat operations such as humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) missions?
  4. Is the creation of the ARDB spurring Japan's other Self-Defense Forces to move toward greater interoperability and collaboration?
  5. What is the relationship of the ARDB to the United States Marine Corps?

In late March 2018, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced a major reorganization of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force that included the establishment of an Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB). In anticipation of the establishment of the ARDB, the RAND Corporation convened a conference at its Santa Monica, California, headquarters on March 6, 2018, to examine the establishment of Japan's amphibious operations force from a variety of perspectives. The scholars and practitioners who contributed to this event were asked to evaluate the reasons for the ARDB's establishment, its deterrence value and defense capabilities, its relevance for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, the extent to which it contributes to jointness within the Japan Self-Defense Forces, its relationship with and value to the U.S. Marine Corps, and ideas for the future evolution of Japan's amphibious operations capabilities. The papers on which these presenters based their remarks at that conference are captured in this conference proceedings.

Key Findings

Experts shared six papers at the conference

  • Retired Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Lieutenant General Koichiro Bansho discusses Japan's new defense strategy in the Southwest Islands and development of amphibious operations capabilities.
  • Retired Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Lieutenant General Koichi Isobe shares an insider's view of the history, evolution, and prospects of Japan's Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade.
  • Jeffrey W. Hornung of the RAND Corporation explores four primary challenges to improving interoperability among the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
  • Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General Richard L. Simcock II reviews the opportunities that Japan's investment in amphibious capabilities presents for the Marine Corps and assesses the next steps the United States should take to maximize the prospects of achieving a set of long-held goals in the realm of amphibious operations.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Japan's New Defense Strategy in the Southwest Islands and Development of Amphibious Operations Capabilities

  • Chapter Three

    An Insider's View of the History, Evolution, and Prospects of Japan's Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade

  • Chapter Four

    Japan's Amphibious Joint Pain

  • Chapter Five

    The ARDB, the USMC, the U.S.–Japan Alliance, and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusion

This work was sponsored by the Government of Japan and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.

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