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Looking Back on 3/11 in Japan: Operation Tomodachi and Humanitarian Aid

Thursday, March 1, 2012

5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum

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Looking Back on 3/11 in Japan: Operation Tomodachi and Humanitarian Aid

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Jeff Benson, United States Navy

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Toshihiro Nishibata, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force

Within hours of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the U.S. Navy mobilized twenty-two ships to support the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces (JMSDF) conducting search and rescue and humanitarian efforts covering more than 2,000 square miles of ocean. The Navy’s forward deployed naval forces, along with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group were among the first to respond conducting humanitarian operations within a radiological environment for approximately three weeks. This presentation provides a personal account of the relief efforts by examining the U.S. Navy’s role during relief operations, U.S.-Japan cooperation during these days, and some of the difficulties the operation overcame. 


LCDR Jeff Benson, USN
Immediately following Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami, LCDR Benson coordinated bilateral operations in support of search, rescue, and humanitarian relief efforts during OPERATION TOMODACHI. His efforts were vital in optimizing patrol areas along Japan’s coastline and expediting high-risk recovery operations strengthening the alliance between the United States and Japan. LCDR Benson received the Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts. LCDR Benson is a Surface Warfare Officer and has served on four different warships, most recently as the Operations Officer for Destroyer Squadron Fifteen forward deployed in Yokosuka, Japan, and aboard the aircraft carrier USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73).

LCDR Toshihiro Nishibata, JMSDF
LCDR Nishibata serves in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). He recently completed an assignment on the Escort Flotilla One staff managing operations and planning exercises for eight warships. Escort Flotilla One is the U.S. Navy’s Destroyer Squadron Fifteen counterpart in Japan. After Japan’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami, LCDR Nishibata was instrumental in daily bilateral coordination, and aligning JMSDF transportation and landing operations. LCDR Nishibata has served in the JMSDF for more than ten years as a Surface Warfare Officer on six different warships.

Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Studies and the Asia-Pacific Studies Group at the Naval War College.

Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute.