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Retired Marine general having second thoughts on Guam move

Date Posted: 2008-06-20

Lieutenant General Henry C. Stackpole is a Marine Corps general well versed in military activities on Okinawa, and one involved in the planned relocation of 8,000 Marines from the island to Guam within the next decade. He’s also a general who is questioning his own support for the multi-billion dollar project over the coming decade.

“Transferring Marines to Guam is a failure; one I agreed to with Japan,” says Stackpole, who is now citing a variety of reasons why the transformation should not take place. Speaking with Okinawan reporters while at Hawaii University, Stackpole says “Now, when I think about it, Guam has narrow training areas, lots of typhoons, and poses difficult transfer problems between Okinawa and Guam because of its remoteness.”

The retired three-star general says “we still don’t have the budget for high speed cargo ships, and I should not have agreed to transfer the Marines to Guam because the U.S. Marines don’t have cargo ships in Guam.” Stackpole was a participant in conferences and negotiations with Japan regarding transferring the troops from Okinawa. He has been an Asian South Pacific District Strategy Institute Chief, and has consulted on Okinawan problems.

“I don’t think it is a satisfactory plan,” he says. Stackpole tells reporters senior officers don’t have a sound background on reorganizing military operations in the region, and suggested decisions resulting from negotiations between Japan and the U.S. were accomplished by leaders confused about the problems. “Both Japan and America aren’t fast in learning Okinawan problems,” the retired general says. “They are slow about thinking about the problems.”

Stackpole questions what will happen next, noting a new American president will be elected in the fall, and a new senior leadership taking over the Pentagon in January. “I don’t know about the new staff,” he says. “are they going to study Okinawa problems from the beginning, and do they have the motivation for study?” He says he believes the agreement between Japan and the U.S. for moving the Marines “is now shaky” and says he can’t predict what the new administration will do.

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