Relocation of U.S. Marines in Okinawa to the United States is the logical option

November 7, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Two American researchers, Mike Mochizuki and Michael O’Hanlon, have contributed an article to the website of CNN, America’s major cable news network, in which they advocate the relocation of the U.S. Marines in Okinawa to the United States.
This would suggest that a skeptical view of the current U.S. military realignment plan predominates in the United States.

Taking into account the current U.S. economic situation, United States military capabilities and the role of its forces, the political and social situation in Okinawa, the article puts forward a highly persuasive argument.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda should read this article. We would like him to shake himself free from the cessation of thought initiated by the “U.S.-Japan Security Treaty Mafia” of bureaucrats of the Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry and move back towards the kind of rational thinking reflected by this article.

Mike Mochizuki, professor at George Washington University and Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at Brookings, are both notable experts on the issues of U.S.-Japan relations and security.

They advocate that Washington should relocate about 8,000 of the Marines currently in Okinawa to California rather than to Guam, a stance similar to that which advocates that United States forces should be deployed to Japan either immediately before or during emergency situations.

Their article is based on two pillars of logic.
First, that the political climate in Okinawa needs to be taken into consideration. The article states, “Okinawan Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was re-elected in November 2010 on a platform opposing the current relocation plan; and he is almost certain to reject the upcoming application for a landfill, which is necessary to build the new airfield.”
Nakaima delivered a lecture on the Futenma relocation issue at George Washington University in Washington DC, this September. This may have helped convey his opposition to the current relocation plan to American experts on issues of U.S.-Japan relations and security.

The other point is that, “Second, and just as importantly in the era of American budgetary austerity, the Guam/Henoko plan is way too expensive.”
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the current relocation plan could cost at least 29.1 billion dollars, meaning that each of the two countries would pay about 15 billion dollars.

In contrast to this, having navy and air force capabilities in forward-deployed locations would cost 5 billion dollars. The more rational of these options is clear to anyone who wishes to see.

The purpose of the current U.S. military realignment plan is the rational redeployment of United States military forces based on the concept of Revolution in Military Affairs. Highly advanced military technology no longer requires the deployment of military forces in particular locations. The Stryker Brigade Combat Team, a mechanized infantry force, that is an organic combined arms unit of light armored vehicles that could be deployed to locations all over the world within 96 hours, is symbolic of this trend. Transport vessels also exist that are capable of rapidly deploying United States forces.

Something else that should also be taken into account is that air forces now hold the key to success on the battlefield, with highly advanced military technologies making it possible for unmanned aerial vehicles to launch attacks.
With those factors in mind, by rights, the fact that the deployment of U.S. military forces overseas could be minimized should be the start point for their realignment.

The article co-written by Mike Mochizuki and Michael O’Hanlon reminds us of this.
On one side, the United States faces economic difficulties with huge military spending, and on the other side Japan faces fiscal pressure because of the need to spend on reconstruction projects in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Given that Japan and the United States would prefer to avoid huge financial expenditure, both governments should swiftly open their eyes to the logical conclusion regarding the Futenma issue.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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