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US, Japan detail realignment adjustments

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Wednesday's announcement regarding the revised 2006 Realignment Plan between Japan and the United States may have been delayed, but shortly after noon Guam time today, the new plan was revealed, providing clarity and optimism that the relocation of Marines to Guam is moving forward.  

"It's moving forward, this is a really good announcement for our country in terms of security plans and for our island and our region also," said buildup chair Senator Judi Guthertz says the people of Guam should feel optimistic regarding the joint statement from the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee outlining adjustments to the 2006 US-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation.

Under the revised agreement, approximately 9,000 US Marines along with their dependents will relocate outside of Japan. And after speculation and discussion for months regarding just how many would relocate to Guam, the joint statement notes that a base sustainment unit will be established on Guam with the US and Japan agreeing to move 4,700 to 5,000 Marines to Guam from Okinawa. 

"So I think we should be very encouraged by this, we're getting some clarity," said Guthertz.

The agreement also indicated some troops going to Hawaii and rotational troops going to Australia. "It did not at all talk about rotational troops on Guam, so I think we may be very fortunate that the troops coming to Guam will be here on a longer term basis," the senator continued.

And in order to develop Guam as a strategic hub and to mitigate the impact of military presence on local communities, both governments have agreed to explore new efforts to promote bilateral dynamic defense cooperation in the region.

The two governments meanwhile have agreed to consider cooperation in developing training areas in Guam and the CNMI as a shared use facility by the US and Japan's defense force. The preliminary costs meanwhile are estimated by the US Government for the relocation of Marines at $8.6 billion.

"Japan is committed to contribute $3.1 billion and United States would provide for the difference, the original record of decision estimated the buildup at the 9,600 Marine level to be about $11 billion+, so we're down to $8.6 billion, which is nothing to sneeze at," said Guthertz.

And after previous discussions that the buildup could not move forward until the issues involving the Futenma Replacement Facility were resolved, according to the DOD, as part of the adjustments, the relocation of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force personnel from Okinawa to Guam has finally been delinked with progress on the FRF.

Guthertz says now is not only the time for the community to study the terms of this revised agreement but understand that we have a great opportunity to move forward.

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