Written by SHARLA TORRE MONTVEL-COHEN
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
GUAM – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke recently in more detail than ever about the nation's strategy for military forces in the Asia-Pacific region and Guam's role in the Pentagon's plan to reassert and enhance America's Pacific presence.
If the future of the Guam military buildup that would realign thousands of Marines from Okinawa to this sovereign bit of American soil in the Western Pacific has been clouded by Washington's call to shrink the Pentagon's spending to levels unseen in decades, Mr. Panetta made clear his own thinking on the issue in a Defense Department news story recapping his recent whirlwind tour through Asia.
"Regarding the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, [Defense] Minister Ichikawa assured me of the Government of Japan's intention to move forward with the steps necessary for the Futenma Replacement Facility, a critical initiative in our effort to maintain a strong forward deployed presence in the Asia-Pacific region, to realign our forces in Japan, and reduce the impact of our bases in Okinawa," Mr. Panetta wrote. "We also confirmed our commitment to the establishment of an operational Marine presence on Guam."
In an interview with the New York Times that provided rare detail for the media regarding a comprehensive Pentagon review of national security strategy that is supposed to assess the impact of a smaller defense budget, he made clear that the U.S. was committed to a strong presence in Asia.
Mr. Panetta is holding out the possibility of pulling U.S. troops out of Europe, the interview report said. "That effort would free up money so the United States could maintain or increase its forces in Asia, a high priority for the Obama administration, and sustain a presence in the Persian Gulf after the withdrawal from Iraq this year," the New York Times said.
Photo used in this article courtesy Department of Defense. Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding
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