amphibious warfare
Iron Fist 2011: "How Good Are These Guys?" (Part 4 of 4)

Iron Fist 2011: “How Good Are These Guys?” (Part 4 of 4)

Fourth of a four part series. The Japan Self Defense Forces are a lot like subatomic particles. Everyone knows they exist, or rather believes in the larger order of things that says they should exist, but few people can really tell you what they’re really like. The SDF keeps a low profile, in large part due...

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Iron Fist 2011: Armies & Transparency (Part 3 of 4)

Iron Fist 2011: Armies & Transparency (Part 3 of 4)

Third of a four part series that will run through Friday. This was my second opportunity to cover troops in the field, and my first ever with the GSDF. How to divide my attention? Should I talk to the Americans, who were approachable and from whom information flowed freely? The Japanese, who were more difficult...

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Iron Fist 2011: Talking English and the Alliance in a Nutshell (Part 2 of 4)

Iron Fist 2011: Talking English and the Alliance in a Nutshell (Part 2 of 4)

Second in a four part series that will run through Friday. The scenario was this: 3 Company, Western Army Infantry Regiment, Japan Ground Self Defense Forces, had landed on Camp Pendleton’s Red Beach and pushed ashore into the coastal foothills. The next phase of the exercise was the passage of lines. While the Japanese held...

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Iron Fist 2011: The Making of a Modern Japanese Marine Corps (Part 1 of 4)

Iron Fist 2011: The Making of a Modern Japanese Marine Corps (Part 1 of 4)

First of a four part series that will run through Friday. It was beautiful, cloudless day at Camp Pendleton, and the U.S. Marine Corps air-ground menagerie was visible in all directions. In the distance, CH-46 transport helicopters practiced swooping down on and taking off from a simulated ship deck. A UH-1Y Huey / AH-1W Super...

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Iron Fist 2011: DVIDS Video

Captain Hollenbeck (my host for my visit to Camp Pendleton) and his public affairs people are doing a great job uploading video from the Iron Fist exercise. The Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System is currently hosting more than thirty videos in all, covering everything from rigid inflatable boat training to weapons familiarization. Here’s a...

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Iron Fist 2011: Photostream

Iron Fist 2011: Photostream

I’m back from Camp Pendleton, California, where I observed a portion of the  U.S. – Japan Iron Fist Exercises. I’m still going over my notes (and battling allergies) but I’ve uploaded a set of photos my photographer (wife) Lisa took during the event. Videos and a writeup to follow. Enjoy! (Link: Flickr photostream)

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Why is Russia in a mad scramble to fortify the Kurils?

Why is Russia in a mad scramble to fortify the Kurils?

Itar-Tass reported Tuesday that Russia plans to use the first two of the Mistral amphibious assault ships it is purchasing from France “to protect the south Kurile Islands.” Russia is planning on buying at least three of the ships, the first two of which will be built in France. There’s been a lot of speculation...

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U.S. – Japanese “Iron Fist” Exercises Begin

U.S. – Japanese “Iron Fist” Exercises Begin

Iron Fist 2011, the annual U.S. – Japanese amphibious warfare exercises kicked off today at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. The exercises, held since 2006, are designed to showcase marine skills, from small boat operations to company-sized live-fire events. The exercise will go on until March 8th. Iron Fist 2009 involves Japan’s Western Infantry...

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North Korea’s Kongbang-class ACV

North Korea’s Kongbang-class ACV

According to a Chosun Ilbo report, North Korea have begun construction on a  combat hovercraft base in the Koampo area of Hwanghae, Province.just 50-60 km from South Korea’s Baeknyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. The base can apparently accommodate up to 70 of North Korea’s hovercraft. Each of the vessels can carry a platoon and...

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Could Futenma relocate to mainland Japan?

Could Futenma relocate to mainland Japan?

The Japanese government is reportedly looking at re-basing the U.S. Marine Corps air base at Futenma, Okinawa. Several places are under consideration. On Kyushu, the Hijudai Maneuver Area; on Honshu, Kita Fuji and Higashi Fuji training grounds, and Ojojihara Maneuver Area; on Hokkaido, Yausubetsu Maneuver Area. The proposal to relocate some training functions of the...

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Keen Sword 2011 (updated)

–Updated 12/10/10 – Keen Sword exercises have ended. Here’s a wrap photo. I count 25 ships. I figure at least half of those ships are Japanese. All of the major Japanese combatants — Hyuga, Kunisaki, Kongo, and Shirane are present. That’s USS Houston in front. Why aren’t there any Japanese submarines in the formation? (Then...

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Well now, look at this…

    This showed up yesterday on Twitter, with the caption: Col Hudson shows a Japanese commander and his staff a training site on Camp Pendleton Nov. 17. Colonel Hudson is Colonel Michael Hudson, commander, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Assumed command back in May. Remember the Japanese were talking about creating a marine force? I...

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