Japan, Australia look to Marines while beefing up amphibious forces
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The U.S. Marine Corps may be shrinking, but American allies in the Pacific are building their own amphibious forces and training them to fight alongside U.S. troops.
As the Afghan War winds down, tightening U.S. defense budgets call for the Corps to trim some 8,000 Marines from its ranks, from 190,000 to 182,000 personnel. The number could go even lower — to 175,000 — if sequestration-level cuts are reimposed.
The fiscal problems have cast doubt on the Pacific pivot that the U.S. has been pursuing since 2011, but two of it’s staunchest Pacific partners — Japan and Australia — seem ready to pick up some of the slack.
Australia recently ordered one of its army battalions to begin amphibious training, while Japan is preparing to field a 3,000-strong amphibious force as rapidly as possible to defend offshore islands.