Patience wearing thin on realignment
Guam - It was crystal clear Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo patience is wearing thin on the slow-to-no movement on the 2006 Japan-US agreement regarding the realignment of forces in the region and more specifically the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam.
Bordallo said, "We've been working on this military move to Guam and now to other areas for nearly ten years. Ten long years."
In Washington today the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness held a hearing on the recently completed Center for Center for Strategic and International Studies' independent analysis of the U.S. Force Posture in the Pacific Command area of responsibility. Bordallo said, "The report reaffirmed the Obama Administration's refocus on the Asia Pacific Region."
The CSIS report also provided four options for U.S. Force Posture variations in the Asia Pacific Region.
1- To keep things status quo,
2- go forward with announced plans by the Defense Department,
3- be more robust and add additional U.S. force capabilities in the Asia Pacific Region,
4- which was described as sequestration friendly calling for big reductions. The analysis makes clear the overall strategic importance of Guam.
CSIS Senior Vice President and the Director of the International Security Program David Berteau said, "If you look at the capability that Guam offers to force posture its much more than a home base for the marines and the MEU moving out of Okinawa its also a strategic hub for both long range Air Force capabilities and in fact for naval forces as well."
The report meanwhile also noted what the congresswoman described as an apparent disconnect between DOD and the pacific command with regards to planning and strategic direction. Bordallo said, "From time to time I have remained concerned that the department is not speaking with one voice or executing major programs in the pacific with a coordinated focus. Why is there so much discord? We are moving to U.S. territory, we're trying to enhance the bases there. We're moving into something that belongs to us. And now of course we're moving in CNMI training areas we're moving to Hawaii and of course to our ally Australia. I just can't understand why we and I know that Congress one of the houses here in congresses par t of the blame. They simply just want to keep wanting more reports and more reports."
Bordallo also expressed concerns that the continued delay could compromise government of Japan funding - approximately $800 million sitting in U.S. coffers - just waiting to be used for the realignment. CSIS senior advisor and Japan chair Dr. Michael Green agreed it could compromise relations and cautioned the message Washington is sending with the continued delays. He said, "It's a matter of record that whenever the Guam relocation plan stumbled in the Congress its big news in Japan. Because this is a heavy political lift for any Japanese government."
Bottomline for Bordallo whose waited for more than a decade to see the ball rolling on the relocation.
"I just wish that I could see more action," she said.