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Leaders optimistic about transfer of Marines

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Whether it's Japan or Washington media, all signs indicate that an announcement about a possible change in the 2006 agreement between the United States and Japan could mean a reduction of troops coming to the territory. There's been no official announcement, but when it is made, it's likely Guam will see a reduction in the amount of troops heading to the territory as part of the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam. But no matter the amount, island leaders remain optimistic that any footprint on Guam would benefit the island.

If national and international media reports are accurate, any day now the Department of Defense should be making the official announcement that the 2006 roadmap for realignment of U.S. forces in Japan will be amended. It will be tweaked in such a way that would delink the contentious issue of the Futenma Air Base from the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam.

Buildup chair Senator Judi Guthertz who was one of many senators who met last week with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo. "She talked about movement that was occurring and we should be hearing more news in the future and that's what we're starting to hear," she detailed. Reportedly the amended 2006 agreement will announce the decrease in troops coming to Guam. Instead of 8,000 we will see 4,700 Marines. The figures are inline with what Bordallo told constituents in Agat during her recent town hall meeting.

She said, "So I think the idea of a mobile force with Guam as centerpiece is still on the table and I think that's going to happen. Right now as we speak, there are representatives from the Department of Defense, Department of State in Japan meeting with the Japanese counterparts talking about changes to the U.S.-Guam Agreement, rather the U.S.-Japan Agreement on the relocation of Marines."

Governor Eddie Calvo's special assistant and military buildup director Mark Calvo recently returned from dc where he met with officials there about the buildup and to provide assurances that Guam remains in support of the DoD's plan no matter how big or small.  "Any amount on the increase on the DoD footprint here on Guam, we believe it's a great thing for Guam economically initially. Now, if it is a smaller amount, we support it highly because it is an indication that all parties concerned have heard our voice that infrastructure must be developed and must be able to sustain whatever buildup is here," he said.

The announcement and changes to the relocation plan comes as the Department of Defense is challenged with making a half-billion dollars in cuts over the next ten years.  According to the reports, Japan and the U.S. meanwhile are likely to announce the transfer of the 4,700 Marines to Guam on February 13.

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