U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jim Webb (D-VA) call on the Department of Defense (DoD) to re-examine plans to restructure U.S. military forces in East Asia, while providing assurances to Japan, Korea, and other countries that the United States strongly supports a continuous and vigorous U.S. presence in the region. The senators believe the current DoD realignment plans are unrealistic, unworkable, and unaffordable.
"Much has changed since the US-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation agreement was signed in 2006," said Senator Levin. "The projected times are totally unrealistic. The significant estimated cost growth associated with some projects is simply unaffordable in today's increasingly constrained fiscal environment. Political realities in Okinawa and Guam, as well as the enormous financial burden imposed on Japan by the devastation resulting from the disastrous March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, also must be considered."
"The Asia-Pacific region's growing role in the global distribution of power requires us to consistently review and update plans for the U.S. military's role in the region," said Senator McCain. "In addition, it's very important to maintain strong bilateral alliances to ensure regional security and our national security interests."
"Our country has reached a critical moment in terms of redefining our military role in East Asia," said Senator Webb. "This moment in history requires that we clearly articulate our operational doctrine, thus reshaping the structure of our military posture in that region, particularly in Korea, Japan and Guam. The success of our relationships is guaranteed by the stability our forward-deployed military forces provide in this region and by our continuing close alliances with Japan and Korea."
Senators Levin, McCain and Webb Propose
* Placing the realignment of the basing of U.S. military forces in South Korea on hold pending further review, and reevaluate any proposal to increase the number of family members accompanying military personnel.
* Revising the Marine Corps force realignment implementation plan for Guam to consist of a presence with a permanently-assigned headquarters element bolstered by deployed, rotating combat units that are home-based elsewhere, and consideration of off-island training sites.
* Examining the feasibility of moving Marine Corps assets at MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, rather than building an expensive replacement facility at Camp Schwab -- while dispersing a part of Air Force assets now at Kadena to Andersen Air Base in Guam and/or other locations in Japan.
The proposals would save billions in taxpayer dollars, keep U.S. military forces in the region, greatly reduce the timing of sensitive political issues surrounding MCAS Futemna, and reduce the American footprint on Okinawa. The recommendations were based on proposals made by Senator Webb to the Committee and build upon the concerns expressed by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Acts for the past two years.
Senator Levin is chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, Senator McCain is the committee's ranking member, and Senator Webb is chairman of the committee's Personnel Subcommittee and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee.