WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 — The U.S. military remains ready to help Japan, even as it has repositioned many assets since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake marked a chain of disasters there one month ago, military officials said.
Numerous aftershocks have rocked northeast Japan since the March 11 earthquake, including a 6.6 magnitude aftershock reported today and a 7.1 magnitude quake reported April 8.
The U.S. military has not been called to help with the most-recent aftershocks, but continues to give support and remains positioned to respond to requests by the Japanese government, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan told reporters today.
“We continue to provide some measure of assistance to Japan, but certainly not at the level it was at a few weeks ago,” Lapan said.
The military sent some 20,000 troops, 140 aircraft and at least 20 ships in support of Operation Tomodachi since March 11, according to military officials.
While no U.S. ships are directly supporting Operation Tomodachi today, several are forward deployed to Japan as part of their regular operations, officials said. About 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan.
“U.S. forces remain committed to the government and people of Japan and are positioned for sustained support,” DOD public affairs officer Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said. “U.S. military forces throughout Japan maintain the capability to provide rapid response.”
The repositioning of U.S. military assets “is an indicator of the tremendous progress the Japanese government and the Japan Self-Defense Forces have made on the ground in dealing with this catastrophe,” she said.
The initial earthquake was followed by a tsunami and a partial meltdown of some of Japan’s nuclear reactors, as well as multiple aftershocks in the past four weeks. The U.S. military responded to Japan immediately, with assistance to Japanese forces, as well as more than 2 million gallons of water, 189 tons of food, 11,960 gallons of fuel and 100 tons of relief supplies, officials said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)