The relocation of about 8,600 US Marines and 9,000 dependents to Guam from Japan will take until 2016, two years longer than expected due to a lack of facilities on the island, the US Department of Defense said.
The move is part of a broader 2006 accord to reorganize US troops in Japan, including relocation of the Marines’ Futenma airbase on Okinawa to a quieter part of that island.
That base has long been a source of tension for residents and led to the resignation of former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama earlier this year.
“Force flow will be managed to ensure that military populations will not be relocated to Guam until the requisite facilities are constructed,” the department said, putting the expected completion date for construction at 2016. “Any current delays to funding or construction pacing could further push out the relocation of military and dependents.”
The department said it had also decided for now not to go ahead with a planned air and missile defense task force on the Pacific Ocean island, which would have involved moving a further 600 military personnel and 900 dependents.
Joint Guam Program Office executive director David Bice said yesterday that the target date for the relocation of the Marines “remains 2014” and that “the actual completion will be determined by adaptive program management.”
In its Record of Decision on the shift, the US Department of Defense deferred some decisions, including the site of a wharf for aircraft carriers and the site for a live-fire training range, which had raised environmental and heritage concerns.
Held by the Japanese for three years during World War II, Guam boasts large reefs, some of which would be destroyed by construction at any of the proposed sites for the carrier wharf. There were also local concerns that the proposed site of the firing range would limit access to an historic site at Pagat in the northeast.
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