alexa Operation TOMODACHI: A Model for American Disaster Response Efforts and the Collective use of Military Forces Abroad
ISSN: 2167-0374

Journal of Defense Management
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Research Article

Operation TOMODACHI: A Model for American Disaster Response Efforts and the Collective use of Military Forces Abroad

Rockie K. Wilson*
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA
*Corresponding Author : John F
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA
E-mail: [email protected]
Received March 14, 2012; Accepted June 25, 2012; Published June 27, 2012
Citation: Wilson RK (2012) Operation TOMODACHI: A Model for American Disaster Response Efforts and the Collective use of Military Forces Abroad. J Def Manag 2:108. doi: 10.4172/2167-0374.1000108
Copyright: © 2012 Wilson RK. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

On March 11, 2011 the largest earthquake in Japanese history, measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, occurred off the coast of Sanriku in the Tohoku region of Japan. The quake triggered a massive tsunami which just moments later overwhelmed settlements and caused catastrophic damage to coastal prefectures. The destruction of homes, businesses, public services, and basic infrastructure combined with the consequences of tsunami damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station reactors served as a “game changer” for Japanese crisis response and most specifically the relationship it maintains with its now most strategically -- The United States. At 3:30 PM, just 44 minutes after the earthquake hit, the Japanese Ministry of Defense established an Emergency Headquarters in order to initiate response operations. At 7:30 PM, the Defense Minister made history when he mobilized 8,400 Japanese Self Defense Force personnel to augment the overwhelmed Japan civil response capability. Just a few short days later, on March 14, Japan took unprecedented action when it established a joint task force to oversee all response operations. Almost immediately after the earthquake, United States Forces Japan in conjunction with the United States Pacific Command initiated a 3-Phase Operation “TOMODACHI” to support the Japanese Self Defense Force response and the people of Japan. These operations included involvement from ground, air, and maritime forces working collectively with their Japanese counterparts to provide immediate relief efforts where no others could. This paper analyzes the collective actions and significant coordination efforts between US and Japanese forces throughout the TOMODACHI response. This is done by identifying successes, challenges, and general lessons learned for future disaster response application and collaboration.

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