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I think someone in the Pentagon has visions of military contracts as corporate welfare for multinational big business. Since bombing missions for the Vietnam War were flown from Guam, there should be munition bunkers available. You do not put munitions in wetlands. If they flew B52s out of there ,they do not need any more runways. One lesson that should have been learned from Pearl Harbor is that you do not leave carriers in a harbor. If the Marines are supposed to be a quick-reaction force, they should be deployed by air. Ships are too slow. The "Star Wars" missile defense system is unproven and a waste of money.

I can see Guam as an air base, but it seems too small for large numbers of ground troops. Considering the number of natural disasters that occur in that region, it would be handy for dropping relief supplies when needed. I would like to see some cargo aircraft stationed there.

The troops we have in Korea and Japan are basically token forces showing our commitment to defending those countries from attack. If a serious conflict developed, more forces would be needed from the US. The Marines on Guam would not be enough. Webb should know better!

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Apr 20 2010 - 3:41pm

Web Letter

Having covered military-related stories in the Pacific for Stars and Stripes since 1991, I found this a very interesting article. I lived on Guam for two years (1991-94) and covered Chamorro protests to have their land returned from the US military and now find the whole situation regarding the military buildup there fascinating.

On Okinawa, I have been covering the so-called "transformation" from this end and noted one glaring error in your story.

You write: "The incident that set these plans for the Guam Buildup in motion was the 1995 gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by US marines stationed at the Futenma Air Base in Okinawa, one of several shocking incidents involving assaults on local girls by marines. Outraged residents pressured the conservative government to reduce or eliminate the American military presence in Japan. Protests culminated in a 2006 realignment agreement between Japan and the Bush administration to close the air base and send half of its troops to a new air base on Henoko Bay, on Okinawa's east coast, with the other half going to Guam by 2014."

You are right that the 1995 incident ignited the anti-base opposition on Okinawa, but the two Marines and sailor involved in the rape and abduction of the 12-year-old girl were from Camp Hansen, another Marine base many miles from MCAS Futenma. Also, the serious crimes committed by US servicemembers on Okinawa also involved members of the Air Force, Navy and Army, not just the Marines. And, despite the local media hysteria regarding crime by US military members on Okinawa, the per capita ratio of crimes committed by them is low compared to the overall Japanese population.

One more thing, all of the 3,000 Marines at MCAS Futenma will be moving to wherever a new base for them is built. The 2006 "Roadmap to Realignment" calls for moving some 8,000 Marines and their families to Guam, once a replacement for Futenma is constructed. That is actually a little more than half of the Marines on Okinawa (12,000 to 14,000). However, that number does not include the air units.

[The writer is a reporter at the Okinawa News Bureau of Stars and Stripes.]

David Allen

Chatan, Okinawa, Japan

Apr 15 2010 - 7:10pm

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