New Japan amphibious brigade joins US-Philippine naval drill

AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicles are seen inside the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) during the exercise. Photo. US Navy

The newly established Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) embarked a US Navy ship for the first time off the Philippine coast on October 2.

The ARDB conducted amphibious operations with amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) during Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat (KAMANDAG) 2, a 10-day training exercise designed to improve US-Philippine interoperability and increase readiness.

JGSDF assault amphibious vehicles were recovered by Ashland sailors and embarked marines from 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during the humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) training portion which was part of the exercise.

The Philippine Navy took part in the exercise with landing platform dock BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) and marine and air force assets.

Japan’s ARDB, formed on March 27, 2018, brings new capability to the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) by combining ground forces, aviation support and logistical capabilities into a cohesive unit capable of operating from the sea and reacting to a variety of scenarios, including self-defense and humanitarian assistance-disaster relief.

“This is a milestone achievement and a significant step forward in capability development for Japan’s newly established amphibious force,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. “The JGSDF and JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self Defense Force) have made enormous strides in their amphibious capability since establishment of the ARDB just six months ago. We are proud to work side-by-side with our friends from Japan and the Philippines during this exercise and look to the future with great anticipation to train together.”

KAMANDAG, an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea,” refers to the partnership between the Philippine and United States militaries.

In addition to HADR, exercises conducted during KAMANDAG 2 will consist of amphibious operations, counterterrorism, live-fire training, as well as jungle survival and combat lifesaving training.

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