Shirley A. Kan Specialist in Asian Security
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. operational
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 Pacific. 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. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has
increased activities in waters around Guam. Still, Guam’s role increased
in engaging with the PLA.
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. Japan’s 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. Nonetheless, despite the dispute over the FRF, Japan has budgeted for its contributions
to 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. President Obama
issued in January 2012 the defense guidance for the strategy of “rebalancing”
diplomatic, defense, and economic priorities more to the Asia-Pacific
region. 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. In March 2013, the
Commander of the Pacific Command (PACOM) testified to Congress that he estimated
the completion of movement of marines to Guam by 2020.
Facing North Korea’s announced missile threats against Guam in March 2013, the
Defense Department announced on April 3 that it would deploy to Guam
within weeks a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic
missile defense system as a precautionary measure to improve defenses
against North Korea’s missile threat.
Legislation includes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2014,
H.R. 1960 and S. 1197. For further discussion, see the section on
legislation. Updated as warranted, this CRS Report discusses major
developments and policy issues related to the defense buildup.
Date of Report: September 12, 2013
Number of Pages: 28 Order Number: RS22570 Price: $29.95
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