Defense

April 30, 2012

U.S. to remove 9,000 Marines from Okinawa

by Robert Burns
Associated Press

About 9,000 U.S. Marines stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa will be moved to the U.S. territory of Guam and other locations in the Asia-Pacific, including Hawaii, under a U.S.-Japan agreement announced April 26.

The move is part of a broader arrangement designed to tamp down tensions in the U.S.-Japan defense alliance stemming in part from opposition in Okinawa to what many view as a burdensome U.S. military presence.

It also reflects a desire by the Obama administration to spread U.S. forces more widely in the Asia-Pacific region as part of a rebalancing of U.S. defense priorities in the aftermath of a decade of war in the greater Middle East.

The agreement was outlined in a joint statement issued Thursday night by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their Japanese counterparts.

Citing an “increasingly uncertain security environment” in the Asia-Pacific region, they said their agreement was intended to maintain a robust U.S. military presence to ensure the defense of Japan.

“Japan is not just a close ally, but also a close friend,” Panetta said in a separate comment. “And I look forward to deepening that friendship and strengthening our partnership as, together, we address security challenges in the region.”

The joint statement made no mention of a timetable for moving the approximately 9,000 Marines off of Okinawa. It said it would happen “when appropriate facilities are available to receive them” on Guam and elsewhere.

Under the new agreement, about 10,000 Marines will remain on Okinawa, which has been a key element of the U.S. military presence in Asia for decades. The U.S. also has a substantial Air Force presence on Okinawa.

“I think we have made some progress and this plan offers specific and forward-looking action,” said Japan’s Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who added that Japan wanted to “reduce the burden on Okinawa.”

Japan, including Okinawa, is a linchpin of U.S. strategy for deterring aggression in the region and for reinforcing the Korean peninsula in the event North Korea attacked South Korea.

The Obama administration believes the new agreement with Japan will make the alliance more sustainable, while also giving the Marines more regional flexibility.

Between 4,700 and 5,000 Marines will relocate from Okinawa to Guam, according to a U.S. defense official who briefed reporters on some of the details before the agreement was official announced in Tokyo and Washington.

The remainder of the 9,000 who are to relocate from Okinawa will move to Hawaii or be part of a rotational presence in Australia and elsewhere in the region, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was previewing the official announcement.

The official would not say how many would be moved to Hawaii. Earlier this week, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he expects around 2,700 Marines will be shifted there.

Of the $8.6 billion estimated cost of relocating Marines to Guam, Japan agreed to pay $3.1 billion, the official said. The total cost includes an unspecified amount for possible construction of new training ranges in the Northern Mariana Islands that could be used jointly by U.S. and Japanese forces, he said.

The agreement also calls for a phased return to Japanese control of certain parcels of land on Okinawa now used by the American military.

The shift of Marines from Okinawa to Guam has been in limbo for years because it was linked to the closure and replacement of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Okinawans fiercely oppose Futenma and believe the base should simply be closed and moved overseas or elsewhere in Japan. The U.S., however, has insisted that Japan find a Futenma replacement on Okinawa.

That issue remains unresolved.

Although many Okinawans welcome the reduction of troops, they believe their main island still has too many bases on it, and say the military presence causes congestion, leads to military-related crime and increases the possibility of civilians who live near the facilities being injured in accidents such as helicopter or aircraft crashes.

The whole dispute over the U.S. military presence on Okinawa has its roots in the 1995 kidnapping and rape of a schoolgirl by three American servicemen. Top U.S. government officials publicly apologized for the crime, but tensions continued to grow despite a strong desire by Tokyo and Washington to maintain their historically close military and political alliance.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 

AF Test Pilot School applications due in June

The 2015 Air Force Test Pilot School selection board will convene July 20-24 to consider candidates for July 2016 and January 2017 classes. Applications are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by June 5. The board will select applicants for fighter, multi-engine aircraft, helicopter and remotely piloted aircraft pilot, combat systems officers – to...
 

 
Air Force photograph by A1C Stephen G. Eigel

Last MC-130P Combat Shadows in the Pacific retire

Air Force photograph by A1C Stephen G. Eigel An MC-130P Combat Shadow awaits its final checks on Kadena Air Base, Japan, before departing for the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., April 15, 2015. The 17th S...
 
 
F22-hero1

F-22 test squadron recognizes decorated squadron member, Vietnam hero

Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara William Freckleton, 412th Range Squadron lead F-22 range control officer, poses before his F-16D incentive flight April 21. Freckleton is the only decorated Vietnam veteran at the 411th Flight...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

AFRL redesigns mock UAV, ‘Surrogate Predator’

Courtesy photograph An enhanced Surrogate Predator 3 is prepared for takeoff. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors were added to the Cessna 182 so it can mimic a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. Air Force Rese...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>