The March 2011 triple disaster in Japan obligated a response from the US, its long-time ally. The US disaster assistance to Japan went beyond the customary nature of the countries’ relationship, and was conspicuous for the scale of military involvement that was embedded in the US-Japan alliance. The success of the US asistance programme Operation Tomodachi is attributed to interoperability between the defence forces of the two allies. In so doing, the alliance which was originally meant for projecting hard power has assumed a new role which is in sync with the new meaning of ‘security’ as defined in the wake of the end of the Cold War. This new orientation makes it is necessary to revisit the theoretical understanding of military alliance. However, the success of Operation Tomodachi is likely to spur greater interoperability which in turn would enhance Japan’s military modernisation.
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