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U.S. budget cuts may stall 2014 Marines’ Guam move

Date Posted: 2010-07-29

U.S. Marines could find themselves on Okinawa much longer than expected, thanks to budget cuts from the U.S. Congress.

A new report from the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations states simply the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam may be delayed until 2017 or beyond. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have voted to cut 64% - 75% of the requested funding for the Guam buildup. The Senate Appropriations Committee indicated its decision was based upon the political climate in Okinawa and questions of the central government’s stability and commitment to relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, a key ‘first step’ in the process of moving troops from Okinawa to Guam.

The Congress has expressed concerns and raised questions about an environmental impact statement covering the area where new construction will pave the way for the Marines’ move. The House committee report noted that schedules will have to be cut back because of construction timelines for completing facilities. The U.S. Defense Department’s own environmental impact assessment report is expected to concur, noting that construction projects are progressing much slower than expected.

About 41,000 construction workers are expected to be handling the projects on Guam by 2014, but the time required to build everything is expected to take much longer. Guam’s governor, Felix Camacho, has reportedly demanded the U.S. government slow the construction projects, or even delay them. The White House is standing fast, insisting the relocation project is on track for 2014, and won’t be changed.

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