Friday, April 27, 2012

9,000 U.S. Marines to be shifted out of Okinawa under force realignment

Some 9,000 U.S. Marines will be moved out of Okinawa Prefecture under a revamped roadmap for the realignment of United States military forces in Japan, the governments of both countries announced on April 27.

The midterm report on the ongoing roadmap negotiations, submitted to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda that morning, stated that a large mixed-arms combat unit called a Marine Air-Ground Task Force would be divided up among posts in Okinawa, Hawaii and Guam, while some elements would be rotated periodically to Australia.

In total, the roadmap would see the number of U.S. Marines in Okinawa reduced to about 10,000. The plan furthermore foresees a three-step process to return land now occupied by five U.S military installations to Okinawa as the Marines are shifted overseas. A full land return policy is expected to be drawn up within the year.

While the dispersion of the 9,000 Marines to other Pacific posts will significantly reduce the military burden on Okinawa, the plan appears aimed at redistributing forces to strengthen the U.S.'s ability to deter China and other regional rivals. Read More