Audit: Millions needed to fund move to Guam
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The move of some 8,000 Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam by 2014 is expected to cost the Marine Corps an extra $465 million annually.
However, a recent inspector general’s report concluded that the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are not prepared for the increased annual costs resulting from the planned changes to the force structure in the Pacific.
The 14-page report, released Monday, is the culmination of a yearlong audit and interviews with military officials. It states the Marine Corps is the only branch so far to estimate how much it will cost yearly to move assets to Guam from Okinawa. However, the corps has not included the cost in its budget projections.
“The source of funds for the additional requirements (has) not been resolved between Headquarters, Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy,” the report states.
The Navy and Air Force also will incur additional annual costs by moving assets to Guam, but the services have not determined what they are, the report adds.
“If DOD and the Services do not include the projected increased annual funding requirements in the next Program Objective Memorandums for DFY 2009,” the report read, “the quality of life for servicemembers and their dependents and the readiness of U.S. forces in USPACOM may be adversely affected.”
The United States has reached agreements with Japan and South Korea for a major restructuring of U.S. forces in the Pacific. A reduction of some 12,500 U.S. Forces Korea personnel is expected to be complete by the end of 2008.
The United States and Japan agreed last May to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma with a new airfield on Camp Schwab and to close several other Marines bases on Okinawa. That would result in the move of 8,000 Marines and about 9,000 family members to Guam, with Japan picking up about $6 billion of the estimated $10.3 billion cost.
To help cover that cost, Japan officials are considering reducing host-nation support for U.S. forces remaining in Japan. Japan now pays about $3.03 billion a year to maintain U.S. forces and is expected to pay that much until 2008.
“DOD must recognize and plan for a possible substantial increase in funding requirements to support forces remaining in Japan if Japan reduces its host nation support,” the IG report states.
Besides the Marines, the Air Force plans to relocate about 3,500 servicemembers, civilian employees and their families to Guam from various locations, but has not estimated the increased budget requirements for the move, according to the report. Also, the Navy, which closed many facilities on Guam in 1993, will need an increase in funds to “refurbish and adequately maintain facilities” for the influx of Marines and airmen.
“At a minimum,” the report states, “the services will have to fund annual costs for units at new locations where they no longer receive host-nation support and could potentially experience higher operational costs."