Guam – Under Secretary of Defense Michele A. Flournoy has written to Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo reassuring her of Guam’s continued stretigic importance and of DoD’s commitment to continue with its redeployment of forces here.
Flournoy was responding to a letter Bordallo sent to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
In her letter to Bordallo, Flournoy writes that “As the westernmost reach of U.S. sovereign territory, Guam provides unconstrained access and operational flexibility for our forces. The Department is committed to establishing an operational U.S. Marine Corps presence on Guam.”
The DoD Under Seretary concludes: “I assure you that the realignment plan is a high priority issue within the Department of Defense.”
or READ Flournoy’s letter to Bordallo below:
UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
2000 DEFENSE PENTAGON
WASHINGTON, D .C . 20301 -2000
DEC 13 ZOll
The Honorable Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Readiness
Committee on Armed Services
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congresswoman Bordallo:
Thank you for your letter of September 30, 2011. Secretary Panetta requested that I respond on his behalf.
As you know, the Secretary recently returned from his first visit to Asia as Secretary of Defense, during which he was able to meet separately with the Japanese Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Defense Minister. A significant portion of those discussions concerned the force realignment issues raised in your letter.
Prime Minister Noda assured the Secretary that his Government is committed to the realignment plan, is taking steps now to produce a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF), and intends to deliver the EIS to the Governor of Okinawa before the end of this year. This is an important step on the way to the critical political miiestone, the Governor’s signature on a landfill permit for the FRF. Expressing satisfaction with this explanation, the Secretary encouraged them to continue to push ahead.
Our military forces in Japan are a central feature of our Asia-Pacific strategy, and the geostrategic location of Okinawa in East Asia is a critical component of this strategy. I believe that in order to ensure our continued use of facilities in Okinawa, not only must we address the impact of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the surrounding communities, but we also must seek to reduce our overall footprint there.
In that context, as we seek a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable presence in Asia, consistent with our renewed emphasis on its global importance, Guam must be part of the solution. As the westernmost reach of U.S. sovereign territory, Guam provides unconstrained access and operational flexibility for our forces. The Department is committed to establishing an operational U.S. Marine Corps presence on Guam. In response to numerous comments from Members of Congress, local political leaders, and citizens groups, we are carefully re-examining our options for Guam, and are focused on developing an efficient, cost-effective laydown and master plan.
I assure you that the realignment plan is a high priority issue within the Department of Defense. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance in addressing your concerns. An identical letter has been sent to Congressman Forbes. Thank you for your continued support to the Department.
Michele A. Flournoy