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2019 December 25 - 2020 January 14 [US FORCES]

US Marine Corps officer proposes cutting US troops in Okinawa

December 31, 2019

A U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer recently published a paper proposing to reduce the number of marines stationed in Okinawa by thousands in order to secure troops for a new operating concept, which attracted much attention.

The officer, First Lieutenant Walker D. Mills, on November 13 posted the paper on the website of the U.S. thinktank “Center for International Maritime Security”. He pointed out that the Marine Corps needs structural changes to carry out Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO).

The details of EABO are not made public, but they reportedly promote a concept aimed at controlling strategically important sea points, deploying anti-vessel and anti-air missiles, establishing refueling points for F-35B fighters, securing temporary points for holding command of the sea, and regulating the enemy’s maritime activities.

As an example of necessary structural changes, Mills cited infantry battalions of the Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa. Regarding the 4th Marine Regiment and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Mills pointed out, “These forces do not provide a significant deterrent to regional adversaries because the infantry battalions do not have relevant capabilities to most conflict scenarios.” He also wrote, “They are certainly a demonstration of U.S. commitment to the region ….” This remark denies the Japanese government’s argument that the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa is a deterrent.

Meanwhile, at the same time, Mills underscored the need of enhancing the functions of the USMC. He noted that artillery units of the Marine Corps use 155mm howitzers, but these weapons’ shooting range is relatively short and they are not effective against ships. Mills stressed the need of employing a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System in a larger scale in order for better sea control.

There is a possibility that the new operating concept will change the structure of the Marine Corps. Despite this, the Japanese government is just pushing forward with the construction of a new U.S. Marine base at Henoko in Okinawa which will be completed in the 2030s at best. This is a prime example of Japan’s subservience to the U.S.

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