Just when the long-in-the-works move of U.S. Marines from Okinawa seemed to be proceeding, the outgoing commandant of the Marine Corps appears to be having second thoughts.
Riflemen from the 4th Marines, rush toward a firing position during live-fire training at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. (Lance Cpl. Harrison C. Rakhshani/Marine Corps)
According to a report in the Marine Times newspaper, Gen. Robert B. Neller has just told a congressional committee that the relocation effort needs a review.
Neller's major concern, expressed before a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting last week, appeared to center on how to get Guam-based marines to where they are needed to fight.
In a back and forth with Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz during the meeting, Neller indicated he didn't believe the planned high speed vessels planned to move the marines and their gear would work for a large force.
“The plan, as it’s currently designed, I think is worthy, possibly, of a review,” Neller said. “That is my personal and professional opinion,”
Neller suggested that doing the job would require more extensive amphibious resources and that the cost of paying for this would have to be balanced against other Department of Defense priorities.
Also, according to the Times story, Neller told the senator that the current Defense Policy Review Initiative plan was in place and though behind schedule, contracts for construction were being awarded to continue the build up, stressing that he and past Marine Corps leadership [were] “content” with the move if the quality of life, training options and sealift/airlift capabilities were in place to get Marines from Guam to the Pacific fight.