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The Unnecessary Front: Reconsidering The Corps's East Asian Bases

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The Unnecessary Front: Reconsidering The Corps's East Asian Bases

by Tim Caucutt

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Military surges are in vogue. Most recently, the US sent an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan. Looking farther back, the world remembers the influx of troops into Iraq. Now, another "surge" is underway—US marines are preparing to storm the beaches of Guam, set up residence, bring their dependents and attract thousands of contractors. The goal is to downsize their presence in Okinawa while maintaining guard against foreign threats. The plan is to spend $10.3 billion relocating almost half of Okinawa's marines, but the problem is that the move is a waste--the US no longer needs permanent marine bases in East Asia. Regardless if the Corps bases in Okinawa or Guam, their prominence in the East Asian strategy has ended. The United States should transition Okinawa's marines to smaller, strategically located bases worldwide.

Download The Full Article: The Unnecessary Front: Reconsidering The Corps's East Asian Bases

Tim Caucutt is a Marine Corps sergeant. In 2005-2006 he participated in the Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa, then deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is an instructor for the Fire Support Coordination Center Course at the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific on Coronado Naval Amphibious Base. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and placed 2nd in the Marine Corps Gazette's 2009 Chase Essay Contest (awarded 2010).

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Wed, 03/23/2011 - 1:27pm

Has any thought been given to posting the Marines on Tinian and/or Saipan? There have been repeated inspector team visits to those islands over the years. Agree with the comment about "...better seaborne...little bullet, big ocean."


Thu, 03/10/2011 - 11:23am

Morgan - I suspect I am hoping our foreign policy, formed by civilian authority and influenced by our "astute" military, will define what America's most likely future strategic areas of interests are, and we will focus our assets in those common regions?

Of course the correct type and size of the Gator Navy (amphibs) will determine restrictions. And though off-topic, my sense of it is, the Navy may somewhat cut the Corps adrift while it lobbies for its own priorities surrounding the 11 carrier strike force, with other service's priorities at the feeding trough. (and I dont mean the trough of the wave at sea).

However, your first paragraph rebuttal is germane, even now we are looking at our Fifth Fleets basing in Bahrain with concern and these forward bases will only grow more untenable in the future, let alone the fact they are certain targets for ballistic missile strikes. . .better to be seaborne. . .little bullet, big ocean, and the element of surprise from over the horizon to influence joint forces coming together.

Where does the author recommend going for the "lily-pad basing"? While a good idea, I'm not sure who would host us, though places like India or Australia come to mind. Maybe the islands of Sao Tome' and Principe' off the coast of Africa...? Aren't we (USG) looking at establishing something like that in both Bulgaria and Romania?

Regarding Tyrtaios' idea of keeping them sea-borne, wouldn't that reduce ever further the number of Marines available for rapid deployment & employment given space restrictcion on ships? I'm not a naval guy so I know nothing about cramming a bunch of people on ships.


Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:14am

There is one major point I might add to the sergeants argument and that is as of right now, our Japanese hosts assume much of the cost in maintaining our infrastructure on Okinawa that ends as Marine-Navy forces relocate to Guam.

We further exacerbate the cost with the continuation of the rotation of commands and individuals as we do now to Okinawa, from U.S. west and east coast tenant bases.

Additionally, I wouldnt distribute Marine-Navy forces into further smaller bases, but rather keep them sea-borne where they would come together and add toward forming a multidimensionality in combining their unique capabilities with other service forms of joint fires.

Just some idle thoughts from a former sergeant.