Yomiuri: U.S. Proposes That the 4,700 Marines Coming to Guam Be Permanently Stationed Here

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Guam – Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun is reporting that U.S. negotiators have proposed that the 4,700 Marines coming to Guam from Okinawa be permanently stationed on island.

 

The paper cites un-named sources in a report on the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Tokyo over a revised Realignment roadmap.

 

According to those sources, U.S. government officials have proposed to their Japanese counterparts that the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), which is currently located in Okinawa Prefecture, be spread out to Guam and Darwin, Australia.

READ the Yomiuri Article

The number of Marines proposed to come to Guam remains the same at 4,700, but, according to the report, the Marines coming to Guam “will be permanently stationed in Guam”.

The Marines that remain in Okinawa Prefecture will be responsible for northeast Asia, including the Korean Peninsula and the East China Sea.

Those stationed in Guam will be in charge of the entire western Pacific, while troops in Darwin will be responsible for the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

The MAGTF is a basic component of the U.S. Marine Corps that has a high-level of readiness in an emergency. It comprises a command center, ground combat units, air combat units and logistic support units.

U.S. to expand marine bases in W. Pacific

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The United States plans to spread bases of its Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) to a total of three locations in the western Pacific as part of the review of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

According to sources, U.S. government officials have proposed to their Japanese counterparts that the realignment of the Marine Corps’ MAGTF, which is currently located only in Okinawa Prefecture, will also be sent to Guam and Darwin, Australia, as part of the realignment plan.

The MAGTF is a basic component of the U.S. Marine Corps that has a high-level of readiness in an emergency. It comprises a command center, ground combat units, air combat units and logistic support units.

The United States aims to boost its deterrence by increasing bases near the ocean around China, which is currently strengthening its maritime presence. This area includes the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

The U.S. plan to deploy the MAGTF outside of Okinawa Prefecture was revealed by sources close to both the U.S. and Japanese governments.

U.S. Marine Corps’ presence in Okinawa Prefecture mainly comprises the MAGTF’s 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. Consisting of about 18,000 to 21,000 personnel, it is the largest MAGTF outside the U.S. mainland.

Under a 2006 Japan-U.S. agreement, 8,000 members of the force’s command and logistic units would be moved to Guam, while the remaining 10,000 personnel, mostly from combat units, would remain in Okinawa Prefecture.

In reviewing the realignment plan of U.S. forces stationed in Japan, the United States lowered the number of marines to be moved to Guam to 4,700.

The U.S. government has told Japan that 10,000 members of the 3rd expeditionary force’s command center and the MAGTF’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, a main combat unit with about 2,200 members, will remain in Okinawa Prefecture.

To reduce the burden on Okinawa, the remaining troops will be sent to the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.

The U.S. government also said an option is to use the MAGTF’s smallest expeditionary units for new troop deployments in Guam and Darwin.

Under the plan, marines will be permanently stationed in Guam, and about 2,500 from the U.S. mainland will be stationed in Darwin for six-month rotations.

The marines in Okinawa Prefecture will be responsible for northeast Asia, including the Korean Peninsula and the East China Sea. Those stationed in Guam will be in charge of the entire western Pacific, while troops in Darwin will be responsible for the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

China’s strategy in the western Pacific is to prevent the advance of U.S. forces, and in particular, the deployment of its aircraft carriers.

China is boosting its military in the western Pacific by building its own aircraft carriers and developing antiship ballistic missiles.

When the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff announced a joint operational access concept in January, it pointed out strengthening and diversifying frontline bases is necessary to ensure enemies face difficulty in selecting targets.

The plan to spread MAGTF units throughout the western Pacific is an attempt to follow this strategy.

The U.S. government officials have told their Japanese counterparts that expanding the location of MAGTF bases will improve the capability of these forces to cope with large-scale natural disasters in the region.

As part of efforts to contain China, the U.S. government also plans to train marines in the Philippines, and deploy its most advanced warships in Singapore.

Japanese government officials praised the U.S. plan. A senior Defense Ministry official said, “Deterrent power throughout the entire western Pacific will be stronger.”

The U.S. Marine Corps is made up of marine expeditionary forces with 20,000 to 90,000 personnel; expeditionary brigades with 3,000 to 20,000; and expeditionary forces with 1,500 to 3,000.

Depending on their size, these groups are capable of continuous combat missions for 15 to 60 days without assistance from other forces.

(Mar. 22, 2012)