Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (Japan)

The Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (Japanese: 水陸機動団, Suirikukidōdan)[4] is a marine unit of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) responsible for conducting amphibious operations. It incorporates the former Western Army Infantry Regiment, which was the dedicated amphibious warfare unit of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade
Official ARDB insignia.
Active7 April 2018[1] – present
Country Japan
Branch Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
TypeMarine brigade
RoleAmphibious operations
Size~ 2,100[1]
Eventually would have 3,000 soldiers[2]
Major General Shinichi Aoki[3]

The ARDB is based at Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.[5]


In light of tensions over the Senkaku Islands and the decision for putting the Chinese Coast Guard under military control,[6][7] Japan started the process of creating an elite marine unit. This brigade was designed to conduct amphibious operations and to recover any Japanese islands taken by an adversary.[8][9]

In 2006, Japan devised a plan to respond to this threat as outlined in the Defense Programs and Budget of Japan. Thus Japan prepared an amphibious force with the necessary know-how, acquired amphibious and other vehicles for such warfare. Prior to this, training was conducted with the U.S. Marine Corps such as "Iron Fist" and the integrated exercise "Dawn Blitz" in which the JSDF participated.[10]

In the Rim of the Pacific Exercise of 2014, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force participated for the first time with amphibious warfare training between the U.S. Marine Corps and the GSDF for multilateral exercises. In Japan, joint exercises are also conducted by inviting the U.S. Marine Corps at JGSDF Camp Soumagahara (Gunma Prefecture) and training with the dispatch of GSDF members to the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa Prefecture.[11]

In 2016, 300 WAIR soldiers were sent to Camp Pendleton for marine training.[12] They were also trained to prepare for the ARDB's establishment.[12]

On 7 April 2018, Japan activated its first marine unit since World War II. The marines of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF)'s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, gathered at a ceremony activating the brigade at JGSDF's Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, on the southwest island of Kyushu, Japan. The Brigade is trained to counter invaders from occupying Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea that Tokyo considers vulnerable to attack.[13]

50 ARDB soldiers were deployed for the first time in an overseas training exercise with American and Filipino marines in Operation Kamandag in October 2018. This was the first time that Japanese armored vehicles were on foreign soil since WW2.[14] The marine unit also dispatched 300 soldiers to participate in Exercise Talisman Saber in July 2019, training in amphibious landings at Queensland, Australia along with American, Australian and British marines.[15][16] The ARDB suffered its first casualty when a 38-year old JGSDF soldier, Suguru Maehara, with the rank of Sergeant 1st Class, was killed in a vehicular accident during joint exercises with US and Filipino troops on 7 October 2018. The vehicle he was riding in collided with another vehicle in Subic Bay.[17]


The ARDB is composed of the following:[18]

  • Brigade HQ
  • 1st Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment
  • 2nd Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment
  • 3rd Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment (being formed)
  • Artillery Battalion
  • Reconnaissance Battalion
  • Engineer Battalion
  • Combat Landing Battalion
  • Logistic Support Battalion
  • Signal Company
  • Amphibious Rapid Deployment Training Unit

Key executives

Official nameClassFull nameSubsidiary announcement dateFormer job
Chief of the Land and Mobile Task Force and Commander AiuraMajor generalShinichi Aoki (青木伸一)March 27, 2018Deputy Director of the Western Regional General Manager
Vice leaderFirst class RikusaYūji Hirata (平田雄嗣)March 23, 20192nd Soda Education Team Leader
Senior staffFirst class RikusaSeiji Kamijo (上薗誠司)March 27, 2018General Manager, Regional Liaison Coordination Division, General Affairs Department


Infantry weapons

ARDB forces are equipped with light infantry weapons, including:[19]


ARDB are also equipped with US and Japanese-made military vehicles and aircraft such as:[19]

See also


  1. "Japan activates first marines since WW2 to bolster defenses against China". Kyodo News. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  4. "防衛省・自衛隊|平成29年版防衛白書|コラム|<解説>自衛隊初の本格的な水陸両用作戦部隊「水陸機動団」の新編". Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  8. Gady, Franz-Stefan Japan’s Elite Amphibious Assault Force Trains With US Marines The Diplomat Retrieved December 11, 2016
  9. Slavic, Erik Japan preparing amphibious force: it looks a lot like a Marine brigade November 4, 2016 Stars and Stripes Retrieved December 11, 2016
  10. "Defense Programs and Budget of Japan" (PDF). Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  11. "陸自「水陸機動団」準備着々/創設まであと1年・離党防衛強化へ米海兵隊と訓練". 産経新聞朝刊. March 20, 2017.
  12. Fuentes, Gidget U.S. Marines Teach Japanese Forces How to Fight From the Sea in Expanded Iron Fist Exercise January 25, 2016 USNI News Retrieved December 11, 2016
  13. Kubo, Nobuhiro Japan activates first marines since WW2 to bolster defenses against China. April 7, 2018. Reuters. Retrieved August 2, 2018
  14. Slavin, Erik (18 September 2015). "Japan enacts major changes to its self-defense laws". Stars and Stripes. Tokyo. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018.
  15. "Japan's new marine unit gets a workout during Talisman Sabre drills Down Under". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  16. "Australian troops lead the way during Talisman Sabre amphibious-assault practice". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2018-08-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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