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. 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 a U.S.-Japan agreement on the relocation of the III Marine Expeditionary Force personnel from Okinawa to Guam that reaffirmed the “Roadmap” of May 1, 2006. However, the marines’ relocation will not occur by 2014. 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 a strong U.S. military presence and readiness remain critical in Asian-Pacific region. 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, in order to make progress. President Obama issued in January 2012 the defense guidance for the strategy of “rebalancing” diplomatic, defense, and economic priorities more to the Asia- Pacific. This “rebalance” further raised Guam’s profile as a “strategic hub.” 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. A U.S.-Japan Joint Statement of October 2013 pointed to a later relocation of marines to Guam that will begin in the first half of the 2020s.
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. After China’s military announced an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea on November 23, the U.S. Air Force flew two B-52 bombers from Guam into the ADIZ in defiance of China’s rules for notification.
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: November 27, 2013
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: RS22570
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