しんぶん赤旗 2020年11月28日 ２面
U.S. Military Forces in FY 2021: Marine Corps
November 16, 2020
Guam and Pacific Force Stationing
This is a classic good news (Australia) and bad news (Okinawa/Guam/Japan) story.
Okinawa/Guam/Japan: The Marine Corps is engaged in a long-term effort to ease the burden of its force footprint on Okinawa by moving forces to Guam, though also to mainland Japan, Hawaii, and the mainland United States. The current plan is for the number of Marines on Okinawa to be halved, to 11,500, by 2027.26
The government of Japan is paying for much of the massive facility construction on Guam, and construction is going forward, though the timeline has slipped repeatedly.27 In September, the Marine Corps christened a new base, Camp Blaz, named for a Marine general of Guamanian descent. Apparently only 1,300 Marines will be permanently stationed on Guam, with another 3,700 coming to the island as a rotational force. This is a change from the original expectation that all troops would be permanently stationed on Guam.28
The re-stationing effort also involves building a new air facility—called the Futenma replacement facility—in the less inhabited northern area of Okinawa at Camp Schwab. This project continues to have difficulties, with the completion date pushed out again, to 2030, and the price skyrocketing. It appears unlikely that this will ever be completed.29
The entire re-stationing effort is a cautionary tale to those seeking to move U.S. forces around the globe. Although there are strong strategic reasons for such posture changes, executing them can be extremely challenging in the real world of local politics, regional tensions, and the inevitable difficulties involved with large-scale construction projects.
Australia: By contrast to the slow and controversial moves on Okinawa and Guam, the Marine Corps’ rotational deployments to Darwin, Australia continue into their tenth year without controversy, with six-month rotations on the ground of about 1,200 personnel each year. Rotations restarted after a pause during the pandemic. The rotations have continued through changes of administration in both Australia and the United States, so the politics look settled. The disadvantage is that the forces are a great distance from any likely conflict (2,500 miles from the South China Sea).
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