U.S. and Japan advance new amphibious capability

05 October 2018

From MC2 Joshua Mortensen, USS Ashland

USS Ashland (LSD 48) is the first 7th Fleet ship to conduct amphibious operations with the newly-established JGSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade.
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force prepares to embark on the USS Ashland in assault amphibious vehicles during KAMANDAG 2 in Subic Bay, Philippines, Oct. 3, 2018. KAMANDAG helps maintain a high level of readiness and enhances bilateral military-to-military relations and capabilities.
A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force amphibious vehicle embarks USS Ashland (LSD 48). (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps)
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force prepares to embark on the USS Ashland in assault amphibious vehicles during KAMANDAG 2 in Subic Bay, Philippines, Oct. 3, 2018. KAMANDAG helps maintain a high level of readiness and enhances bilateral military-to-military relations and capabilities.
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A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force amphibious vehicle embarks USS Ashland (LSD 48). (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps)
Photo By: Lance Cpl. christine phelps
VIRIN: 181003-M-BP396-207

SUBIC BAY, Philippines - The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) became the first U.S. Navy ship in the 7th Fleet to conduct amphibious operations with the newly established Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) troops and their equipment, Oct. 2.

JGSDF assault amphibious vehicles were recovered by Ashland Sailors and embarked Marines from 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) training as a part of exercise Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat (KAMANDAG) 2.

The 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 2 is a bilateral, U.S., Philippine, military training exercise with U.S. forces being led by the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. This year, Japan Self-Defense Forces are participating in HADR portions of the exercise to expand the capabilities of their newly formed ARDB.

“The Ashland crew is proud to participate in this exercise with both the Philippine and Japanese Forces,” said Cmdr. Patrick L. German, Ashland’s commanding officer. “I’m sure there is much to experience during the next couple of days as we conduct various evolutions with our friends from both countries.”

Ashland will be working with allied nations and their marine forces conducting various amphibious operations focused on humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) during the exercise.

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181003-N-XK398-1045 USS Ashland (LSD 48) departs Subic Bay to conduct amphibious operations for exercise KAMANDAG 2. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Joshua Mortensen)
SLIDESHOW | 1 images | 181003-N-XK398-1045 USS Ashland (LSD 48) departs Subic Bay to conduct amphibious operations for exercise KAMANDAG 2. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Joshua Mortensen)

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.

“Once again we have the opportunity to work with the Philippine Armed Forces,” said Brig. Gen. Chris A. McPhillips, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Commanding General. “As we strengthen and improve our capabilities, I look forward to the continued growth that we will achieve during KAMANDAG 2.”

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.

Ashland, part of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for contingency operations.

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