As tensions rise and key US allies increasingly become targets of aggression in the Asia-Pacific region, the Marine Corps is taking several big steps to preserve stability there.
Several different plans are in the works, according to Lt. Gen. John Toolan, the head of Marine Corps Forces Pacific – such as expanding partnerships with other countries in the region.
Toolan and other military leaders are looking for ways to move Marines around the vast region, he told The Marine Corps Times. The service is forging ahead with plans to eventually place “nearly 15 percent” of the service’s personnel in Hawaii and beyond, he said.
Marines are reportedly set to partner with at least 22 regional militaries throughout the next year. “We are currently exploring options for greater amphibious engagement with India,” Toolan said.
The expanding partnerships with other countries in the region, will allow Marines in the Pacific to head out to sea on different vessels in the future — “possibly even including other country’s ships.”
“We continue to look for opportunities to find creative solutions,” Toolan said. “Future opportunities may include third country ships.”
And as tensions with China, Russia and North Korea continue to rise, the evolving partnerships will allow for more rapid response. Toolan recently led a U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium — or PALS — over four days in Hawaii, to discuss “amphibious operations and interoperability.”
As the Japanese Self-Defense Forces takes steps to boost its amphibious capabilities, the service is looking to the Marine Corps for guidance. “The introduction of the JSDF into Australia is a milestone,” Toolan said.
In June, Japanese troops deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to Australia, “where they participated in a multinational exercise.”
Another advantage to having an increased Marine Corps presence in a region prone to devastating natural disasters is that the service is well-equipped to lead the effort when a tsunami or typhoon strikes.