CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The III Marine Expeditionary Force’s commanding general said Wednesday that moving some 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam will not affect the unit’s effectiveness in the region.

At a Wednesday interview in his office here, Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Weber contended the move should make III MEF more mobile and flexible, especially with the use of the latest technology — new communications equipment, high-speed vessels and the V-22 Osprey — to command and control units throughout the Pacific.

III MEF “has the ability to task organize units that may be located in other areas and quickly move them into one region and into some type of a humanitarian disaster relief mode, or into a full combat operation,” Weber said.

He said the Ospreys will make their way to the Pacific between 2014 and 2016, replacing CH-46 helicopters on Okinawa and CH-53s on Hawaii.

Weber said splitting the unit even more — among Hawaii, Okinawa and now Guam — should have no impact.

“The key to the defense of Japan and the security of the region is not necessarily to have 18,000 Marines sitting on the island of Okinawa,” he said. “Much better use of that capability is to disperse it where it can be a deterrent to its traditional threats, but also the new threats of terrorism.”

He said with threats changing and technology increasing, the need to have Marines nearby is less than before.

“It’s not just the foot soldier that is always key,” Weber said. “We’re seeing the way we fight warfare change … This transformation is a part of making adjustments for that.”

Guam’s potential for new training ranges also is among advantages of the move, Weber said. He said it also increases opportunities to train with Japanese Self-Defense Forces both on Guam and Okinawa.

“This is part of working together — bettering our relationship with respect to training together,” Weber said.

He said the U.S.-Japanese realignment agreement calls for keeping about 10,000 Marines on Okinawa — a force “that’s deployable, that can respond to a high-end threat of major combat operations all the way down to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Where those Marines will be on Guam remains up in the air. Weber said some facilities near the Naval Communications Station in the north have been viewed but no details have been worked out.

“It’s all part of the studies and master planning that’s being done right now, but there are some templates that have been developed to ensure that we fit in,” he said.

Weber also stressed that moving the 8,000 Marines from Okinawa is a “very positive and sincere step on behalf of both our governments to reduce the burden on the Okinawan people.”

He added that both governments have a renewed commitment and sense of urgency to work out the details.

“You can certainly feel … the willingness to cooperate and the commitment on both governments to not just talk about this — ‘Let’s make something happen, let’s get it done, let’s set some real milestones on when we want this accomplished.’”

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