Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fortress Guam

The Marines are getting closer to calling Guam a major home:

The Corps is getting underway with one of its biggest redistribution of forces since World War II as thousands of Marines are shifting to the Pacific and moving around the region in an effort to prepare to counter rising threats from China to North Korea. ...

Now, the Corps wants to move roughly 9,000 of those forces from Okinawa, Japan, to other regions like Guam and Hawaii.

There are 31,000 Marines in III Marine Expeditionary Force (a division-sized ground unit--although I think this MEF has only 2 regiments--and air wing), with 22,000 on Okinawa. But Okinawa is now too close to China whose military power can now easily reach that island.

Guam will get 5,000 Marines.

Australia is also the site of an increasing rotational deployment that will eventually reach 2,500 in a full Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Construction on Guam began in 2010 and will finish in 2021.

It is amazing how long this is taking, given that I wrote about the plans so long ago, designed to spread the Marines out to make them less vulnerable and to lessen friction on Okinawa where the Marine presence has long been an irritant to the local residents.

April 2006, about negotiations between America and Japan on relocating Marines from Okinawa.

May 2006, about a press conference on the plan.

June 2006, about defense in depth in the Pacific.

January 2009, about the potential of Guam to be a staging base to deploy power west.

April 2012, about spreading the Marines out.

December 2013, about providing alternate runways for Guam assets given growing Chinese missile threats.

April 2014, about reducing the Guam deployment in favor of Australia and Hawaii.

December 2015, about how Guam can be struck by Chinese forces.

America started this project in reaction to China's growing threat to bases on Okinawa.

Yet this move to Guam is taking so long that by the time Marines are deployed on Guam in strength, China's extending reach will threaten Marines on Guam:

The [DF-26] missile is believed to have a range of up to 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles), leaving vulnerable the crucial U.S. military installations on the island of Guam, along with other bases in the region.

But hey, at least Hawaii is so far east that it could never be hit! Right?

That's not something we'd possibly risk again.