by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Three U.S. senators believe the Department of Defense's current plans for restructuring U.S. military forces in East Asia are "unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable." Senators Carl Levin (D - MI), John McCain (R - AZ), and Jim Webb (D - VA) have asked the DoD to re-examine its plans for Guam, Japan and Korea.
The three U.S. lawmakers, who sit on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, have proposed that the DoD examine the feasibility of moving Marine Corps assets at Futenma, Okinawa to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, rather than building an expensive replacement facility at Camp Schwab. They also recommended that the U.S. Air Force disperse parts of its assets now at Kadena to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and/or other locations.
They also proposed the revision of the Marine Corps Force Realignment Implementation Plan for Guam to consist of a presence with a permanently-assigned headquarters element bolstered by deployed, rotating combat units that are home-based elsewhere and consideration of off-island training sites.
Senator Levin stated that much has changed since the U.S.-Japan roadmap for Realignment Implementation Agreement was signed in 2006. He added, "The projected times are totally unrealistic. The significant estimated cost growth associated with some projects is simply unaffordable in today's increasingly constrained fiscal environment. Political realities in Okinawa and Guam, as well as the enormous financial burden imposed on Japan by the devastation resulting from the disastrous March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, also must be considered."
Senator Webb chimed in, "This moment in history requires that we clearly articulate our operational doctrine, thus reshaping the structure of our military posture in that region, particularly in Korea, Japan and Guam. The success of our relationships is guaranteed by the stability our forward-deployed military forces provide in this region and by our continuing close alliances with Japan and Korea."
Both Senators Levin and Webb were just on Guam last month to meet with members of the 31st Guam Legislature and Governor Eddie Calvo to discuss the military buildup. They also visited Okinawa and Japan during their trip to the region.