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Marines’ Guam move not any time soon

Date Posted: 2012-05-12

The United States is planning to transfer some of the Marines in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture to the U.S. territory of Guam "in the next couple of years," says a senior Pentagon official, but not soon.

"We're looking to figure out a way that we can very quickly try to move...elements of Marines off of Okinawa and on to Guam in the next couple of years," Robert Scher, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans, has explained to the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. Scher is the first senior U.S. official to refer to the timing of the Marine transfers to Guam.

The Defense Department official says "I would hate to predict when that move would be finally finished.” There is "no chance that we're going to (relocate) Marines permanently where they don't have the services they need to take care of themselves and their families," Scher added.

Late last month, Japan and the United States announced an agreement to transfer 9,000 U.S. Marines from the Okinawa to the Pacific island of Guam and other locations abroad, as part of the ongoing review of their plans to realign U.S. forces in Japan.

Scher said the transfers of Marines and the planned return of land used for U.S. military facilities in southern Okinawa will reduce the burdens of Okinawa and its people.

He notes the bilateral agreement on the realignment "provides for a more 'politically sustainable' arrangement for basing U.S. troops in Japan.”

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