HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Pentagon is expected to announce that it intends to transfer up to 2,700 Marines from Okinawa to Hawaii according to a news release from Governor Abercrombie's office.
Gov. Abercrombie, a former member of the U.S. Congressional Armed Forces Committee, says he has anticipated this news for some time and released the following statement:
"Since taking office, I have had discussions with officials from the U.S. Pacific Command in anticipation of a Marine transfer from Okinawa to Hawai'i. I also met with Okinawa Prefectural Governor Hirokazu Nakaima on this matter when I visited in October.
"As the Pentagon finalizes its plans, I believe the number of marines moving to our State will increase and we are well prepared to receive them. While in Congress, I worked on key legislation that allowed for ample military housing. In my role as Governor I am working to ensure that there is ongoing military and state cooperation to allow for a seamless and smooth transition for our servicemen and women and their families."
The announcement will be part of the Pentagon's new basing strategy that will move Marines that are in Okinawa to new facilities in the Pacific.
Pressure to move U.S. Marines off of Okinawa have been building in Japan since 2006.
According to Bloomberg, the announcement will include a drastic scaling back of the number of troops headed to Guam, diverting about half of the 8,000 slated to leave Japan to Australia, Hawaii, or the Philippines.
Congress could block funding for the new 'basing proposal.' Some Senators say they want the Defense Department to explain how the proposal fits into the White House's national security strategy in the Pacific and defense spending plan in Washington.
"We have been advised informally that the United States and Japan are preparing to announce an agreement regarding basing issues on Okinawa and Guam as early as this Wednesday, April 25, in advance of Prime Minister Noda's coming visit to the United States," Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jim Webb (D-VA) wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today. "While we have been strongly encouraging a resolution of this complex and troubling issue, we feel compelled to emphasize that no new basing proposal can be considered final until it has the support of Congress, which has important oversight and funding responsibilities."