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Monday, November 12, 2012

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments



Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam to increase U.S. presence, deterrence, and power projection for potential responses to crises and disasters, counterterrorism, and contingencies in support of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or elsewhere in Asia. Since 2006, joint exercises based at Guam called “Valiant Shield” have boosted U.S. military readiness in the Asian-Pacific region. The defense buildup on Guam has been moderate. China has concerns about Guam’s buildup, suspecting it to be directed against China. There has been concern that China and North Korea could target Guam with missiles. Still, Guam’s role increased in engaging with China’s military.

In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed on a Realignment Roadmap to strengthen their alliance, including a buildup on Guam to cost $10.3 billion, with Japan contributing 60%. Goals were to start the related construction on Guam by 2010 and to complete relocation of about 8,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. In Tokyo on February 17, 2009, the Secretary of State signed the bilateral “Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning the Implementation of the Relocation of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Personnel and Their Dependents From Okinawa to Guam” that reaffirmed the “Roadmap” of May 1, 2006.

However, completion of the marines’ relocation by 2014 would be unlikely, and the original realignment actually would have involved more than moving 8,000 marines to Guam. In September 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) became the ruling party. This political change raised uncertainty as Japan sought to re-negotiate the agreement, even while the United States sought its implementation. The dispute over the location on Okinawa of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) to replace the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma raised implications for the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam. Then, North Korea’s attack on South Korea’s naval ship Cheonan in March 2010, and China’s deployment of its Navy near Okinawa and confrontation with Japan’s forces in April, catalyzed Japan to resolve the dispute in favor of stronger deterrence in alliance with the United States. On May 28, the Secretaries of Defense and State and their counterparts in Japan issued a “2+2” Joint Statement, in which they reaffirmed the 2006 Roadmap and the 2009 Agreement. In September 2010, the Navy and Army issued a Record of Decision that deferred some decisions for Guam. Nonetheless, despite the dispute over the FRF, Japan has budgeted for direct contributions and loans for the marines’ relocation to Guam.

By 2011, some Members urged attention to concerns that included Japan’s impasse, expanded costs, and the delay in the realignment even as the U.S. military presence and readiness remain critical. On May 11, 2011, Senators Carl Levin, John McCain, and Jim Webb called for a review of plans to restructure military forces in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. Meanwhile, President Obama issued in January 2012 a new strategy of “rebalancing” priorities more to the Pacific (in what some call a “pivot” to the Pacific). Finally, on February 8, the United States and Japan agreed to “adjust” the Roadmap and separate the move of marines from the plan for the FRF, in order to make progress separately. A U.S.-Japan Joint Statement of April 2012 specified that out of about 9,000 marines to be relocated from Okinawa, about 5,000 marines would move to Guam. Out of the new estimated cost of $8.6 billion, Japan would contribute $3.1 billion. On July 24, the Defense Secretary submitted to Congress a required independent assessment on the posture in the Pacific. Legislation includes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2013 (H.R. 4310; S. 3254). Updated as warranted, this CRS Report discusses major developments and policy issues related to the defense buildup.



Date of Report: October 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: RS22570
Price: $29.95

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