CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa --
Senior members of the Japanese Self Defense Forces met with leadership of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit here, May 14, to learn more about amphibious integration and expeditionary operations.
The entire 31st MEU command staff was joined by representatives from III Marine Expeditionary Force, including Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Gleuck, Jr., commanding general of III MEF, to present information and field questions from senior leaders of the Japanese Ground, Maritime and Air Self Defense Forces.
"We were able to engage our Japanese partners in bilateral discussions of amphibious capabilities," said Lt. Col. Brian C. Hawkins, operations officer of the 31st MEU. "Our discussions emphasized what we call 'jointness,' particularly our integration with our naval counterparts."
The Japanese officers were provided an in-depth presentation on the structure, mission and capabilities of the 31st MEU, before a large panel of Marine officers fielded questions.
Representatives from the MEU's Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion 31; and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (REIN) were on hand to answer questions about the MEU's unique capabilities.
"One of the keys to the MEU is our flexibility," explained Col. Andrew R. MacMannis, commanding officer of the 31st MEU. "We can come ashore many different ways, in to a variety of places, and be self sustaining for a short time to allow larger units to arrive."
The Japanese panel asked questions regarding 31st MEU structure and capabilities for more than two hours, attempting to broaden their understanding of the expeditionary unit concept.
"We wanted to learn about the amphibious operation concept of the U.S. Marine Corps," said Col. Kazutomo Idogawa, chief of the Policy and Programs Section, Ground Staff Office, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force. "We believe the 31st MEU is the strongest example of amphibious readiness in the III Marine Expeditionary Force."
Moving forward, the Japanese face a challenge of developing ways to employ their forces in a way that leverages their ground, air and naval forces capabilities together, according to Hawkins.
But the Japanese officers left the meeting with confidence in their ability to do so.
"The information provided by the Marines was very useful to us," said Idogawa. "We believe it is adaptable to the Japanese Self Defense Forces."
The 31st MEU serves as the United States' force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific region, and the only continuously forward deployed MEU.