Officials Point to Smaller Number of Marines Moving to Guam
The Defense Department plans to move only 4,700 Marines from Okinawa to Guam after the U.S. and Japanese governments this week reworked an earlier agreement governing the realignment, Guam officials have been told by the Navy.
“We expect that Guam will receive 4,700 Marines, but the exact laydown and mixture of those forces has yet to be formalized,” Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D) said in a written statement after meeting with Robert Work, undersecretary of the Navy, and Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment.
As a result, the realignment could be accelerated, reported the Pacific Daily News. “It will be on a smaller scale, but it will start the process. It will allow the process to move forward,” said Arthur Clark, director of policy for Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo.
Until officials learn more details about the composition of the Marine forces coming to Guam, it will not be clear whether the troops will occupy a smaller footprint. Fewer military families than expected might be coming as well, since there is the possibility that some of the personnel will be deployed there on rotation.
The original roadmap agreement between the United States and Japan called for 8,000-plus Marines and their families to move from Okinawa to Guam. The new agreement reached this week severs the link between relocating the Marines from Okinawa and Japan’s progress replacing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma elsewhere on Okinawa.
Despite a smaller influx, Guam still expects a considerable economic boost from the realignment as billions of dollars will be spent to accommodate the Marines.
More Needed from DOD
At a hearing Thursday, senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee reiterated the need for the Pentagon to meet the requirements included in the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill before Congress will authorize funding for the realignment of forces on Okinawa, reported CQ Today.
“We want to make it clear that the requirements in this statute that are contained in the fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill must still be met before any funds, including funds provided by the government of Japan, may be obligated or expended to implement realignment,” Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said during a confirmation hearing for Adm. Samuel Locklear III to be the next commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
The legislation calls for the Marine Corps to provide a preferred force laydown for the Asia-Pacific region and for DOD to commission an independent assessment of the military’s force posture, deployment plans and security interests in the region, among other requirements.
Levin, however, said this week’s announcement by the United States and Japan was “welcome news,” according to CQ.