09 June 2016

Putting “Meat on the Bones” of the U.S.-Japan Alliance Coordination Mechanism

Thomas Storch, “Putting ‘Meat on the Bones’ of the U.S.-Japan Alliance Coordination Mechanism,” Sasakawa USA Forum, Issue 2, 1 June 2016.

U.S.-Japan alliance coordination has historically been hindered by structural challenges, such as the lack of a mutual defense pact or a joint operational command structure, as exist in both the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Despite longstanding efforts to bolster crisis interoperability and coordination, the alliance continues to lack an optimal structure to organize the planning and execution of complex joint operations. The Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM), detailed in the 2015 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, is the “next generation” attempt at forging the structures to optimize alliance joint planning. While the ACM outlines key coordination bridges, it is still largely conceptual at the current time. The focus must now turn to “putting meat on the bones” by building out and populating the U.S., Japanese, and bilateral structures, groups, and committees through which the ACM will execute its coordination functions. By focusing on command and control structures, updated scenario planning, and strategic messaging, the ACM can target specific functionalities needed to bolster alliance preparedness. The success of the implementation of the ACM will have important implications for the alliance’s ability to conduct increasingly complex joint operations in future years.

Selected works cited:

Andrew S. Erickson, “America’s Security Role in the South China Sea,” Naval War College Review 69.1 (Winter 2016): 7-20.

Andrew S. Erickson and Adam P. Liff, “Not-So-Empty Talk: The Danger of China’s ‘New Type of Great-Power Relations’ Slogan,” Foreign Affairs, 9 October 2014.

Further writing on the concept of “competitive coexistence”:

Andrew S. Erickson, “Keeping the South China Sea a Peaceful Part of the Global Commons,” The National Interest, 27 July 2015.

David Axe, “China’s ‘Ripples of Capability’: An Interview with Andrew Erickson,” AOL Defense, 29 August 2011.

Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Nan Li, eds., China, the United States, and 21st Century Sea Power: Defining a Maritime Security Partnership (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2010).

Andrew S. Erickson, “Assessing the New U.S. Maritime Strategy: A Window into Chinese Thinking,” Naval War College Review 61.4 (Fall 2008): 35-71.

Andrew S. Erickson, “Combating a Truly Collective Threat: Sino-American Military Cooperation Against Avian Influenza,” Global Health Governance: The Scholarly Journal for the New Health Security Paradigm 1.1 (January 2007).