Marines start to move from Japan to the new base in Guam 16/01/2024 | Fabio Di Felice

Early in 2022, the US Marines Corps opened Camp BLAZ, in the village of Dededo, on the northwestern part of Guam, as a “strategic hub” in the Indo-Pacific region and in line with China containment.

In the last weeks, the Corps announced that soon, and no later than 2024, Marines from the operating forces will move from Japan to the Pacific Island as part of a recent agreement with Tokyo to move approximately 9,000 Marines out from Okinawa, which now counts 18,000 Marines. About 5,000 of those, all from III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), are planned to end up in Guam. In accordance with the USMC released statement, the main body will be preceded by an advance party made by Logistics Marines who will work in preparation for follow-on forces to move at a later date.

As already reported by RID, the Marines' reduction from Japan has been requested by Tokyo’s government after facing pressure from Okinawa authorities and population. At this stage, it is not clear when the unit headquarters will move to the new location, however, III MEF staff already underline that the force flow will be incremental and balanced to ensure continuity of operational capability.

Guam, part of the Mariana Islands, under US control since 1898, has already a significant USAF and US Navy presence, and it has already seen plenty of movement in the last months which will increase with the inbound Marines. Indeed, more than 45 projects are under construction at the new base with an estimated budget of $680 million funded by the US, and $430 million by Japan. The base will have terrific accommodations and training facilities including 4 live-fire ranges and an urban combat training area made up of 133 buildings. USMC personnel are working hard and investing significant funds to avoid, minimize, or offset environmental impacts on Guam’s natural and cultural resources, mitigating the opposition to the base of some environmental groups and Indigenous rights activists.

As already anticipated, the aim of this Marines movement is to bring some relief to the Japanese government and local authority, and constantly position distributed Marines within the Indo-Pacific to keep the pressure of containment on China. Quoting Guam Governor, Lou Leon Guerrero, the future of Guam is inseparable from the future of the broader Indo-Pacific and the success of the Marines is inseparable from the success of the island’s people.

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