Senior Lawmakers Warn DOD ahead of New Guam Realignment Plan
Three members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including the top Democrat and Republican, repeated their concerns Tuesday that the Pentagon has yet to answer questions about the cost, military sustainment and force management, and overall strategy for the Asia-Pacific region after being briefed on a new agreement between the United States and Japan on the planned move of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
“We require additional information regarding how this proposal relates to the broader strategic concept of operations in the region, the Marine Corps’ concept of operations, master plans and alternatives to base realignments on Guam and Okinawa, as well as the positioning of U.S. Air Force units in the Asia-Pacific region,” Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Webb (D-VA.) said in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
“We also remain concerned about the absence of firm cost estimates informed by basing plans, an analysis of logistical requirements and environmental studies related to this new agreement,” according to the letter.
The senators’ letter stressed the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the need for a robust U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region, requirements which make it essential that the nation make the right decisions on its force posture in that part of the globe.
“It is our position that any announcement on this critical matter that goes beyond an agreement in principle at this time would be premature and could have the unintended consequences of creating more difficulties for our important alliance,” the letter said.
The Pentagon is expected to reveal details today on the agreement, which updates a 2006 realignment roadmap between the United States and Japan calling for 8,000-plus Marines and their families to move from Japan to Guam. The two nations revisited the deal earlier this year and in February announced that the buildup on Guam would involve only 4,700 Marines.
The Japanese media have reported that the new agreement will result in only 4,000 Marines relocating to Guam, and a small buildup on the Northern Mariana Islands of Pagan and Tinian, according to the Pacific News Center.