The Marine Corps reactivated a base on the island of Guam Thursday in an effort to establish an increased forward presence in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen ties with Japan and other allies in the region.
Known as Camp Blaz, the base is located on Guam’s northern plateau where it will serve as a “strategic hub as the Department of Defense realizes the vision of the 2022 National Defense Strategy,” according to a service announcement.
The location was selected during the 2012 Bilateral Agreement between the U.S. and Japan under the Defense Policy Review Initiative which established a framework for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the release states.
According to a Friday statement from Pentagon deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, the Defense Policy Review Initiative Realignment Plan includes the relocation of 9,000 Marines from Okinawa beginning in 2024.
“No new units will be added to Okinawa under the agreement. 12th Marine Regiment, an existing unit on Okinawa, will undergo a transition to 12th Marine Littoral Regiment, in accordance with Marine Corps modernization efforts,” Singh stated.
“To maintain the number at the agreed upon troop levels, units identified to remain in Okinawa per the previous agreement will be strategically dispersed throughout the Indo-Pacific Theater, with Guam to serve as an important logistics hub in the future,” she continued.
Approximately 5,000 Marines will eventually be housed at Camp Blaz. They will begin relocating from Okinawa to Guam in the first half of the 2020s, according to Singh.
Camp Blaz is the first newly constructed Marine Corps base in almost 70 years. This construction is partially funded by the government of Japan, which will contribute $3.1 billion in fiscal year 2012 dollars to the effort.
The base is intended to act as a strategic outpost to promote collective defense in the region, and as a training ground for U.S. and allied forces.
“Forward, persistent presence is key to the regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz is a critical part of that. More than that, it shows our undivided relationship with the Government of Japan,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said in a statement included in the service’s release.
The Marine Corps first established a Guam presence in 1899 with Marine Barracks Guam. The base was reactivated in 1946 after World War II, and operated until it was deactivated again in 1992, according to the release.
“The realignment of Japan-based Marine Corps forces is the result of nearly 20 years of bilateral policy negotiation reflected in eight international agreements and arrangements. The realignment aims to secure a Marine Corps posture in the Indo-Pacific region that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable,” Singh’s statement added.
“The current program of record (POR) develops Guam as a strategic hub in the region and eases the impact of hosting Marine Corps units on the Okinawan people. The initiative also includes the relocation of Marines to Australia, Hawaii, and the continental United States,” she continued.