U.S.-Japan Alliance Trans­for­ma­tion Con­tin­ues, Admi­ral Says

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Service

Both the Unit­ed States and Japan remain com­mit­ted to plans to trans­form the U.S.-Japan alliance, includ­ing the move of about 8,000 U.S. Marines from Oki­nawa to Guam the senior U.S. com­man­der in the Pacif­ic reported. 

Navy Adm. Tim­o­thy J. Keat­ing dis­cussed mil­i­tary trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives, includ­ing the Defense Pol­i­cy Review Ini­tia­tive focused on the U.S.-Japan alliance, dur­ing ses­sions in New York at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions yes­ter­day and the For­eign Press Cen­ter Nov. 5. 

The plan includes mov­ing 8,000 Marines and their fam­i­lies from the Japan­ese island of Oki­nawa to Guam, relo­cat­ing two U.S. air bases in Japan from urban to rur­al areas, and realign­ing the Japan Self-Defense Forces to com­ple­ment the U.S. realignments. 

The plan is expect­ed to reduce the U.S. foot­print in Japan to about 10,000 Marines, while tak­ing advan­tage of oppor­tu­ni­ties pro­vid­ed in Guam. Japan has agreed to pick up about $6 bil­lion of the cost involved. 

Despite bud­get chal­lenges both coun­tries face, Keat­ing said both coun­tries want the plan to move for­ward as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. “The two gov­ern­ments of the Unit­ed States and Japan have recom­mit­ted at the very high­est lev­els — prime min­is­ter and pres­i­dent — to the even­tu­al suc­cess of the DPRI,” he said at the For­eign Press Center. 

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates vis­it­ed Guam in May to get a first­hand look at growth under way to pre­pare for the Marines’ arrival. 

The sec­re­tary took a heli­copter tour of Ander­sen Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam and oth­er island facil­i­ties to see con­struc­tion already start­ed in prepa­ra­tion of the arrival of mem­bers of 3rd Marine Expe­di­tionary Force and an esti­mat­ed 9,000 fam­i­ly members. 

“All in all, it will be one of the largest move­ments of mil­i­tary assets in decades and con­tin­ue the his­toric mis­sion of the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary pres­ence on Guam: to serve as the nation’s first line of defense and to main­tain a robust mil­i­tary pres­ence in a crit­i­cal part of the world,” Gates said. 

Keat­ing called the recent move of the USS George Wash­ing­ton to Japan a broad-reach­ing trans­for­ma­tion­al issue in the region. The Navy’s only for­ward-deployed air­craft car­ri­er arrived at Fleet Activ­i­ties Yoko­su­ka Sept. 25, and head­ed out to sea Oct. 1 for its first oper­a­tional train­ing in the region. 

“The sup­port of the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment in mov­ing a nuclear-pow­ered air­craft car­ri­er to Japan was … sig­nif­i­cant,” Keat­ing said. “It’s been years in the mak­ing, and it’s a very strong sig­nal of the spir­it of coop­er­a­tion that’s so preva­lent in our deal­ings with Japan.” 

Keat­ing spoke in broad terms about chal­lenges in the Asia-Pacif­ic region that spans half the globe, empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of part­ner­ships in the U.S. the secu­ri­ty coop­er­a­tion plan. 

“We want to rep­re­sent the strength and the capa­bil­i­ties of the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary, but we don’t want to over­do that,” he said. “We would much rather have a coop­er­a­tive and col­lab­o­ra­tive atmos­phere that we enjoy in almost every part of our [area of respon­si­bil­i­ty] rather than rely on mil­i­tary power.” 

Mean­while, Keat­ing said U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand is watch­ing close­ly the “poten­tial areas of con­cern” in its region. These include ter­ror­ist threats in the South­ern Philip­pines from the Jamaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf orga­ni­za­tions; as well as ten­sions between Indi­an and Pak­istan, North and South Korea and Chi­na and Taiwan. 

Keat­ing said he con­tin­u­ous­ly empha­sizes the impor­tance of mul­ti­lat­er­al coop­er­a­tion that pro­motes region­al sta­bil­i­ty dur­ing his meet­ings with mil­i­tary, polit­i­cal and com­mer­cial leaders. 

“We do all that we can to reas­sure all of our part­ners and allies and friends in the region that we are all about a sta­ble, secure envi­ron­ment with eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty for all,” he said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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