15 June 2005

Halloran on Reshuffling U.S. Forces in the Pacific

Last Sunday's (12 June 2005) Honolulu Advertiser carried an article by Richard Halloran on possible realignments of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
As pieced together from American and Japanese officials, who cautioned that no firm decisions have been made, the realignment shapes up like this:

Army: The Army headquarters at Fort Shafter would become a war-fighting command to devise and execute operations rather than to train and provide troops to other commands as it does now. The U.S. four-star general's post in Korea would be transferred to Hawai'i.

I Corps at Fort Lewis, Wash., would move to Camp Zama, Japan, to forge ties with Japan's ground force. Japan would organize a similar unit, perhaps called the Central Readiness Command, to prepare and conduct operations with the U.S. Army.

Japanese officials are considering elevating the Self-Defense Agency to a ministry and renaming Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force as the Japanese Army and the same for the navy and air force. Shedding those postwar names would reflect Japan's emergence from its pacifist cocoon.

In South Korea, the U.S. plans to disband the Eighth Army that has been there since the Korean War of 1950-53, to relinquish command of South Korean troops to the South Koreans, and to minimize or eliminate the United Nations Command set up during the Korean War.

A smaller tactical command would oversee U.S. forces that remain in South Korea, which would be down to 25,000 from 37,000 in 2008. That may be cut further since Seoul has denied the U.S. the "strategic flexibility" to dispatch U.S. forces from South Korea to contingencies elsewhere.

Marine Corps: The Marines, who have a war-fighting center in Hawai'i, would move the headquarters of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, or III MEF, to Guam from Okinawa to reduce the friction caused by the U.S. "footprint" on that Japanese island. How many Marines would move was not clear, but combat battalions would continue to rotate to Okinawa from the United States.
via The Marmot's Hole

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