The relocation of 5,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam will begin “in the first half of the 2020,” the Department of Defense said in a J report officially released on Tuesday.
The new schedule of deployment of a Marine Air Ground Task Force to Guam, which is “a central feature of the U.S.-Japan realignment plan,”
is four years earlier than previously announced.
During his visit to Guam in April, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told his local counterpart, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero that the U.S. military has informed him the Marines’ transfer would begin between October 2024 and March 2025.
The Indo-Pacific Strategy Report said DOD “is modernizing its force posture in Guam, in keeping with Guam’s position as the westernmost territory of the United States and a strategic hub for our joint military presence in the region.”
The report, dated June 1, 2019, was made public two months after the Pentagon announced the downsizing of military projects on Guam.
Eight defense projects on Guam are among the 127 military construction tasks that stand to lose funding as a result of the DOD’s $3.6 billion fund diversion measure to build President Trump’s Mexican border wall projects. The $257 million worth of projects on the chopping block are components of the $8.7-billion Marines’ relocation program
The report details the DOD’s National Security and Defense Strategy to counter China’s military expansion that “seeks to reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.”
“The National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy articulate our vision to compete, deter, and win in this environment,” the report said. “Achieving this vision requires combining a more lethal Joint Force with a more robust constellation of allies and partners. Increased investments in these imperatives will sustain American influence in the region to ensure favorable balances of power and safeguard the free and open international order.”
The DOD said the Indo-Pacific Command currently has more than 2,000 aircraft; 200 ships and submarines; and more than 370,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, DoD civilians, and contractors assigned within its area of responsibility.
While the largest concentration of forces in the region are in Japan and South Korea, the DOD said, Guam serves as a strategic hub that supports crucial operations and logistics for all U.S. forces operating in the Indo-Pacific region. Guam has a sizable contingent of forces —more than 5,000 on a day-to-day basis — some of the most significant ammunition and fuel storage capabilities in the IndoPacific.
“The addition of rotational maritime lift in Guam will increase the reach of our combat power in the Western Pacific,” the report said. “At Anderson Air Force Base, we have established an active Army Missile Defense capability in response to increasing threats, and maintain a continuous bomber presence and ISR capability.”
In the CNMI, the U.S. forces have air, surface, and subsurface training capabilities, with ready joint forces and opportunities for increased multilateral training, DOD said.
“We are revitalizing our engagement in the Pacific Islands to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region, maintain access, and promote our status as a security partner of choice,” the report said. “The Pacific Islands represent a region distinct from other regions in the Indo-Pacific because of the relatively small size of states, unique geography, and challenges to promote economic prosperity.”
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