Washington D.C. – Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo questioned U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday in Washington.
The Congresswoman’s Office released the following statement about that encounter.
READ Congresswoman Bordallo’s release below:
Congresswoman Bordallo Questions Secretary Panetta about the Marine Corps Realignment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –February 15, 2012– Washington, D.C. –
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo today addressed proposed modifications to the realignment of Marine Corps forces in the Pacific, during an oversight hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on the Department of Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2013. The Congresswoman requested that Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, explain the rationale behind the new implementation plan and how it would enhance the U.S. strategic posture in the region. Under Secretary of Defense, Robert F. Hale, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, also testified at the hearing today.
The Congresswoman inquired about the foundation for changes to the realignment roadmap, and what role, if any, the Budget Control Act played in these decisions. She expressed concern that re-opening negotiations with the Japanese government may result in a reduced overall contribution to the build-up, based on the decision to de-link the realignment from the issue of the Futenma Replacement Facility; given this possibility, she asked how the Department would meet Guam’s infrastructure needs. The Congresswoman also inquired about unobligated funds already received from the Government of Japan and what steps the Department was taking to meet the requirements needed to spend these funds.
Secretary Panetta noted that a final agreement has not been reached between the Administration and the Japanese government and that the DoD continues to work out the details of the proposed changes. He did, however, stress that it is critical for the Marine Corps to maintain a forward presence in the region to ensure regional and national security. Secretary Panetta pledged to continue to work with the Congresswoman as the revised agreement with Japan is finalized.
“I appreciate the Administration’s continued focus on the Asia-Pacific region, and I am pleased that the Department of Defense is working on ways to press forward with military build-up on Guam,” said Congresswoman Bordallo. “Secretary Panetta reaffirmed the Administration’s support for the realignment, and reiterated that DoD continues to work with the Government of Japan to finalize the plan. He emphasized the strategic importance of maintaining a forward Marine presence in the Pacific, and said that the Administration is developing a plan that includes a rotational presence of Marines that is able to respond to crises in our region. However, I cautioned that I remain seriously concerned about any proposals to have predominantly rotational forces on Guam. A reduced number of Marines does address some concerns in the community, but we should be cautious about saving money on military construction while increasing other operating costs for the Marines. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Obama Administration to closely scrutinize the details of the proposed realignment plan as they become available.”