Pentagon Remains Committed to Realignment of Marine Forces
In response to a surprise proposal from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to revamp DOD’s plan to relocate 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the department reaffirmed its commitment to carrying out its “longstanding agreements” with Japan.
“These agreements are good for the people of Okinawa, Japan as a whole, and the U.S.-Japan alliance,” a Pentagon spokeswoman said Thursday.
“After the relocation is completed, the average citizen of Okinawa will see and hear far fewer U.S. troops and aircraft than they do today,” she added.
On Wednesday, Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) called for the military to relocate a smaller number of Marines to Guam. DOD would create a headquarters on the island and rotate combat units from other locations. Their proposal also relieves the Japanese government of the need to build an expensive, and highly controversial, replacement facility for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma at another site in Okinawa, Camp Schwab. Instead, the lawmakers suggest moving Marine Corps assets at Futenma to Kadena Air Base, also in Okinawa, and shifting some Air Force assets at Kadena to Andersen Air Base in Guam.
The existing realignment plans are “unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable,” the senators said.
Levin’s staff said the Armed Services chairman is considering adding language to the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill later this year to carry out the lawmakers’ proposal, reported Stars and Stripes.
On Thursday, Webb, a member of the Armed Services committee, said: “I would like to emphasize that the recommendations we moved forward yesterday are workable, cost-effective, [and] capable of being implemented in a timely manner, will reduce the burden on the Okinawan people, and will strengthen the American contribution to the security of East Asia.”