DOD Reaffirms Commitment to Guam Realignment
In the wake of congressional action to suspend funding for the relocation of 8,600-plus Marines from Okinawa to Guam, a senior Pentagon official this week reiterated the administration’s commitment to the move.
“The United States is committed to Guam’s role as a strategic hub, and to that end a U.S. Marine Corps presence in Guam remains an essential part of our Pacific strategy,” Michele Flournoy, undersecretary for policy, said in a written statement.
The fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill approved by Congress this week freezes further funding for the buildup on Guam, requiring more detailed plans for the initiative and a study of the nation’s force posture in East Asia. The measure also calls for the secretary of defense to certify that Japan has made tangible progress regarding the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa.
That component of the realignment has been one of the key sticking points as Okinawans would prefer the facility be moved off the island all together. Since the conference agreement on the authorization bill was completed Monday, the Japanese government has indicated it would trim its funding for the Marine’s move to Guam, according to news reports.
For Flournoy’s part, work on relocating Futenma is continuing as planned: “We welcome the Government of Japan’s assurances that it is preparing to move forward with the steps necessary for the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF), specifically filing the necessary environmental impact statement by the end of the year. Progress on the FRF plan is necessary to build confidence about the viability of our realignment efforts.”
Read the story in the Pacific Daily News.