Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), a member of the Armed Services Committee and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee's East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, issued the following statement regarding today's announcement by the United States and Japan on defense posture:
"Today's announcement represents another acknowledgment by the governments of the United States and Japan that the 2006 Roadmap Agreement must be adjusted to preserve the vital strength of our alliance and the stability of the region. In that regard, the U.S. Congress has laid out two firm requirements regarding our basing system on Okinawa and Guam. These requirements are directly tied to defense funding. They must be met in order to ensure a comprehensive analysis before moving forward.
"First, the Fiscal Year 2012 defense bill requires the Commandant of the Marine Corps to provide his preferred force lay-down for the Pacific region. Second, the Defense Secretary has been ordered by Congress to commission an independent assessment of U.S. security interests, force posture, and deployment plans in the Pacific region. The Congress has yet to officially receive the Marine Corps plan. The independent study is mandated by law to be provided to the Secretary of Defense by the end of March, with the Defense Secretary further obligated to report his findings to the Congress within 90 days of receiving the study.
"I look forward to reviewing these reports when they are made available."
Senator Webb has traveled widely in Asia as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific. He has visited Okinawa and Guam twice in the past two years, and last year drafted a set of basing recommendations for East Asia that were supported by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and ranking Republican John McCain. These recommendations were incorporated in the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. A key recommendation was to move U.S. Marine Corps aviation assets assigned at Futenma into Kadena Air Base, while dispersing a percentage of Air Force assets now at Kadena to other locations in the Pacific region.
Senator Webb's recommendations were based on his long-standing interaction with the Pacific region that spans more than 40 years, including service as a Marine Corps infantry officer during the Vietnam war, a defense planner who wrote a region-wide facilities analysis for the Governor of Guam in 1974, a Department of Defense official whose responsibilities included evaluating mobilization scenarios for Secretary of Defense Weinberger, a writer and journalist who has spent a great deal of time in Asia, and most recently as a member of the United States Senate.