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DoD News Briefing with Deputy Undersecretary Lawless and Deputy Undersecretary Grone

Presenters: Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Philip Grone
April 25, 2006 12:00 PM EDT
DoD News Briefing with Deputy Undersecretary Lawless and Deputy Undersecretary Grone

            MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  As you know, the U.S.- Japan security relationship remains vital to both our countries and to the entire Asia-Pacific region.  We've been working with Japan to transform our alliance and are making important progress in those consultations.  Because of the importance of this relationship and the recent progress that has been made, we felt it would be helpful to ask two senior Defense officials to share some time with you on this subject.  So for about 30 minutes today we have Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Affairs Mr. Richard Lawless and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Mr. Philip Grone.

 

            And with that, I'll turn it over to you gentlemen.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Okay.  Thank you very much.

 

            Phil and I are pleased to be with you here today. What we wanted to do is put the events of the weekend, particularly the highlight that Secretary Rumsfeld's meeting with Defense Minister Nukaga received in the press here and in Japan.  And it's important, I think, for us to allow you to understand and make the connection, put that meeting in context, of the fact that what we're really doing here is completing one last important piece of a much larger and much more important arrangement.  The Guam piece, the Marine relocation to Guam, should be seen in the context of a whole range of changes we are making to transform the alliance, and that involves both a major realignment of U.S. bases in Japan, a major change in the way we base ourselves and our partners in the alliance -- the Japanese self- defense forces -- as well as a range of changes we're making in the way that we operate and operationalize the relationship.

 

            All of these changes were previewed to a degree with an agreement in principle that we reached back in late October, October 29th, 2005, and then captured in a document at a ministerial level meeting, which we called Alliance Transformation Realignment.

 

            In that document, we committed to reach agreement on all of the detailed implementation plans that were to require -- that would be required to realize these changes by March 2006.  Obviously, we're a little bit behind that timeline, but not by much.  We've basically pulled together all the components of that package, reached agreement in details and in principle on all of these components, and one of the remaining issues that we hadn't resolved as of this past weekend, until Sunday night, was the Marine relocation to Guam.

 

            That issue has now been resolved.  It will be retailored back into the entire package, and hopefully with the decisions and discussions that are going on today -- we have a Japanese delegation with us today in the building that are working on some of the fine points of that agreement -- we will have a comprehensive implementation plan to present to our leadership either later this week or early next week.

 

            And that's where we are, and I wanted to put the Guam piece of this into context because it's a very important part, but it's just one part of something that's much, much larger in this relationship between ourselves and the government of Japan.

 

            With that, what I'd like to do is open this up for some questions, perhaps, and we can respond to any concerns or inquiries you might have.

 

            Please?

 

            Q:  Would you have the two-plus-two to finalize the negotiation with the Japanese government?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  The two-plus-two is something we will be prepared to move forward with ideally next week, but we will only have a two- plus-two if we reach agreement on the entire package.  And we are now, as I say, going over some very fine tuning on that package, but I cannot say that that package has been completed as of today.

 

            Q:  Could you also explain that if Russia is behind the move -- moving the Marines from Okinawa to Guam, what's the benefit from the U.S. side?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Well, it isn't a benefit.  As Secretary Rumsfeld I think characterized that we've reached agreement Sunday night on an arrangement that benefits both countries.

 

            So the issue here is that the government of Japan asked us in the context of alliance transformation to see if there wasn't a better way that we could arrange ourselves, possibly reducing, as the government of Japan says, the burden on the people of Japan, but at the same time making sure that we do nothing to in any way reduce the credibility and the deterrent power of the American presence as it contributes to the alliance and peace in the Pacific.

 

            I think that what we've done is, we've hit upon a solution that allows us to do both those things:  maintain credibility, maintenance deterrence, but at the same time relocate a portion of the Marines to a position in the Western Pacific that still makes them immediately relevant to the defense of Japan.  And that's the balance we've struck with this particular arrangement.

 

            The other issue that relates to the Marine relocation from Guam -- it's 8,000 Marines that are -- excuse me -- the relocation to Guam -- 8,000 Marines, approximately, will be leaving Okinawa.  That allows us to do some other things there.  That allows us to consolidate -- and the consolidation of our footprint is a separate, discrete, very important element of what's going on -- consolidating our footprint on Okinawa, thereby giving back or being able to return land to the Japanese people, very valuable land, on Okinawa, particularly in the south.

 

            So that's part and parcel of this whole arrangement -- a very important component.

 

           Yes?

 

            Q:  You've gone over one of the biggest hurdles.  Can you us an idea of what are the smaller sticking points that you have to resolve before you get final agreement?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  The implementation arrangements are, in a sense -- they're very basic, but in some ways implementing them is very complex, because they involve relationships with local communities. And what the Japanese side has done is, we think very appropriately, said to us what we have to do in every case is, we have to go back and achieve coordination with the local communities, be it at a provincial level, be it at a city level, township level.  And in each case, we know that getting coordination with the local communities is what allows us to really implement the agreements.  In the past, when we had, for example, the SACO agreement, we had a great agreement in principle on certain aspects of relocation, but we failed to achieve up front detailed agreement and arrangements on the actual implementation.

 

            We're doing it differently this time.  So we're making sure that every T is crossed and I is dotted, so that these are agreements that we can actually step out on and implement, beginning this year.

 

            So that's the difference, and that's what we're doing.  We're cleaning up, if you will, and fine tuning every single one of those points.

 

            Q:  Are you confident that the Japanese leadership is going to put enough weight behind the push to make sure that's done to resolve the differences with the local community?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Yes, we're confident.  They have told us that they're very confident that this is a plan that they can execute.   We have told them in no case give us something or reach agreement with us or commit to us something that you cannot execute, and they have told us these are all things we can do, but we have to do them in the right way.  And, frankly, that's what's taken us to get from where we were in October with agreement in principle to where we are today with specific agreement on each of the individual implementation plans.

 

           Yes.

 

            Q:  The agreement on Sunday night left the U.S. responsible for a greater percentage of the cost that you -- than you had anticipated spending for the relocation of the Marines to Guam.  You know, where is that money going to come from?  And how much does this -- this series of agreements or this whole umbrella of separate, you know, realignments going to cost?  And is that something that you'll be looking for in a supplemental budget request, or --

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  I'll answer the second part first, and then Phil Grone is going to answer the first part.  Is that okay?

 

            MR. GRONE: Sure.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  As I mentioned, trying to put the Guam relocation in the context of this much broader realignment. The Japanese government, because most of the relocations and realignment moves are taking place on Japan proper, including Okinawa, are responsible for a huge commitment.  That commitment probably ranges somewhere between -- whether you include Guam or not -- 20 (billion dollars) to $30 billion over a six- to seven-year period.  This is a huge expenditure on their part, a huge investment on their part in the alliance, and we recognize it as such.  The relocation to Guam is added into that approximately $20 billion domestic figure.

 

            So when you look at it in that context, we feel that this is fairly struck bargain, that we are sharing costs on reasonable basis on that Guam discrete portion of the budget, but we ask that you understand that this expenditure on their part is much, much larger than just the Guam piece.

 

           Phil.

 

            MR. GRONE:  Now --

 

            Q:  What's the U.S. part of that?

 

            MR. GRONE:  Well, and certainly from the U.S. part of this, this is a -- as Mr. Lawless indicated -- a series of strategic realignments that will occur over a number of years.  We currently anticipate that we'll be able to accommodate this within our normal budget process as we make resource choices on a going-forward basis.  In many ways this is similar to the resource trades that we make to secure broader transformation domestically with BRAC.

 

            So these are choices that we make in the broader national interest, and it's something we'll be working through in the coming months to make sure that our program matches up with the commitments that we make through these agreements.

 

            Q:  And sir, can I just follow up?  So you do not anticipate asking Congress to allocate extra funds in the supplemental?

 

            MR. GRONE:  Currently we have a supplemental pending before Congress for immediate needs of the department.  As I say, this agreement is a multiyear agreement, and as I say, we'll handle this through the normal course of budget and programming.

 

            MR. LAWLESS: Yes?

 

            Q:  Thank you.

 

            Given these changes, do you still see 2012 as the target date for completing this move, or will that now be delayed?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Actually, overall the plan talks about 2012 because most of the changes can be made well within that 2012 or approximately within that 2012 period.  But as we fine-tuned it, we hope we can stay within 2012.  A lot of the budget obligations, although not all, will be within that 2012 period, but some of the discrete moves will take more time than others.

 

            For example, we have just agreed on and selected a new site for the Futenma facility on Okinawa.  Whether that site -- we can execute against that site by 2012 technically I don't know.  Our Japanese counterparts are very confident that they can do that, but again, there's probably a little bit of flex in that.  But right now for planning purposes we've agreed that our target dates are all related to the year 2012.  But again, some things will be done before that. 

 

            Q:  Just to follow up.  We had heard that the Futenma plan should precede the Guam move.

 

            We had heard that from the DOD side before.  Is that still the thinking?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  No, I wouldn't -- I'd characterize it a little bit differently.  Not "precede."  The Guam move is dependent, to a degree, on a successful execution of the Futenma move.  Futenma, in turn, involves a relocation of forces on Okinawa.  It's part of that consolidation I mentioned to you because when we give up the old Futenma and move into the new facility, that property will go back, but at the same time other adjustments must be made at Camp Schwab, the new location.

 

            So there's a lot of movement around Okinawa key to these two actions -- Futenma relocation and the Marine Corps movement to Guam -- that allows us to consolidate and give back all that land that we want to give back and have agreed to give back, by the way, in the agreements that we've reached with the Japanese.

 

            MODERATOR: Yes.

 

            Q     After agreeing with the Japanese on the burden-sharing of the cost of moving Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the demonstration of the global posture realignment in Japan seems to be almost concluded. So now, from your point of view, what is the most important change in this posture realignment with Japan?  For example, how about the integration of command facilities in Yokota and Tama?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Very important.  And a lot of the things that we're doing relate to existing facilities and our ability to share our facilities with Japan's self-defense forces and the Japanese willingness to share some of their facilities with us on a training basis or other basis.

 

            On the case of Yokota, it's an excellent example.  The government of Japan has decided to build its new air defense command center, a multiyear, very large project on Yokota so that they can be there with us and we can cooperate and have some degree of interoperability with that.  And that is a very tangible benefit to the alliance that we are co-locating our forces.  It makes us much more interoperable, and it creates a truly bilateral, interoperative, balanced alliance, and that's one of the things we're hoping to achieve with this alliance transformation.

 

            It isn't realignment first.  It's alliance transformation and realignment.  So we're helping to transform the fundamentals of the alliance; realignment, physical realignment is just a small piece of that.

 

            Q:  And a follow-up.  So far -- and there is so much opposing of policies among local communities.  So do you think that the integration of command facilities will be achieved?  Is there any concern about this --

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  No.  We have -- we have total confidence in the agreements we've reached with the government of Japan.  Minister Nukaga is very confident that we can execute the agreements that Japan has entered into with us.  We believe we have the full support of the Koizumi government.  And I think we would not have entered into these individual agreements if we thought there was any possibility that the government of Japan could not execute them.  So we have great confidence in what we've agreed to, yes.

 

            Q:  Part of this broader realignment that you're talking about, does Japan fully support basing a nuclear aircraft carrier in its waters, and are there any conditions or obstacles out there that could derail the plan to send the George Washington carrier to Yokosuka in 2008?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  No, I'm not -- I'm not going to characterize the aircraft -- or, the ship that is going to go there.  I don't believe we've made any announcements on the specific vessel that's going to go.

 

            (To staff.)  Have we?

 

            STAFF:  Yes, George Washington.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  We have announced George Washington?  Then fine.

 

            I think that that coordination activity is ongoing.  We expect it to continue to be ongoing for some period of time.  And we're -- at this point in time we don't have any problems with it.  We are satisfied with the dialogue we have with the government of Japan.  The government of Japan is responsible for coordinating all aspects of this with the local community.  I think we've reached out -- it's been in the press that delegations have traveled to the United States. They've visited -- I believe, San Diego, John?

 

            STAFF: Yes.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  And familiarized themselves there with the way that nuclear-powered carriers and other ships are based and housed and maintained.  And we're building a steady level of understanding, confidence and credibility with the Japanese people on how we operate nuclear-powered vessels.  That's where we are, that's about where we wanted to be in this stage of the process.  We're fully, still, what, two years away from the eventuality of that carrier actually arriving and being home-ported there.

 

            But one other point that's sometimes missed.  The decision by the United States to base what is truly one of its most significant national assets, a multi-billion-dollar national asset -- it isn't the 8,000 people that go, or 10,000 people that go with that task force, and it isn't just the carrier itself, it's everything you have to send with it -- that carrier battle group, being a national asset of the United States, a strategic asset, being based and being sent there to be based, is our tangible contribution to the alliance, and it makes a statement about our commitment to the alliance.

 

            The American people have risked and put forward that national asset to be in that location.  It's the only place that a carrier is based outside the United States of America.  And I think it is a unique situation that we have in this alliance that we commit that carrier battle group to that alliance.  We told the Japanese people that we would not send anything but our very best capability, and that's what we're doing with the George Washington.

 

           Yes?

 

            Q:  I'm going to ask about the U.S. forces status agreement, the remaining issue between United States and Japan.  Do you have some talking about this agreement?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Well, everything we're doing complies with or in a sense relates to our status of forces agreement.  We wouldn't do anything, you know, necessarily outside of our status of forces agreement, but it really hasn't been an issue, because everything that we've looked at doing has a relationship to our joint committee structure there.  And the individual realignment moves that occur in Japan will take place in the context of that joint committee agreement process.  So we're very comfortable in the context of the current status of forces agreement there with all of these realignment moves.

 

           Yes?

 

            Q:  I want to follow up again on the money issue just to make sure I've got that right.  So the cost is about $20 billion for Japan -- said between 20 and 30, and then later said about 20.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  No, the way I characterized it -- let me correct that.  I'm sorry.  For the realignment in Japan proper, including Okinawa, a reasonable cost estimate, a general cost estimate is about $20 billion.  I said the cost that they would incur for helping us with the relocation to Guam is additive to that.  So you can add $6 billion to the $20 billion, approximately.  Now, this has to be worked out, it has to be figured out over the next several years, but these are very rough but, I think, probably reasonably conservative estimates of what it's going to cost to do this for them.

 

            Q:  Okay.  Does that mean that the U.S. portion of that realignment is an equal share?  Or what's the U.S. part of it?  I mean, I realize you --

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  The Japanese press has correctly characterized -- okay? -- that the cost for the relocation of 8,000 Marines to Guam, for the developmental costs to develop and deploy the new facilities there that will have to be built for that 8,000 Marine personnel contingent and families, probably 9(thousand) to 10,000 family members in addition to the 8,000 Marines, will be approximately $10.3 billion.

 

            Of that $10.3 billion, they are covering about 60 percent, technically 59 percent, and we are covering the balance

 

            MR.     :  The balance is about 4 -- or approximately $4 billion.

 

            MR.    :  Does that nail it?

 

            Q     That's not the number I'm looking for.  I'm looking for a big number.  You keep saying this is just a small piece of the big agreement.  You characterized the cost of the Japanese of the big realignment, the overall effort, and I'm looking for the, you know, attendant or related U.S. figure.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  On the home islands of Japan including Okinawa, it's -- let us say, it's approximately $20 billion; add to that their costs on Guam, which are $6 billion, makes the total about $26 billion.  That's the bigger context I'm talking about.

 

            Q:  It would be shared by the U.S.?

 

            MR. GRONE:  No. No.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  Japan sharing Japan?  It's their responsibility.

 

            MR. GRONE:  It's full.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  It's -- (inaudible).  That's what I'm saying.

 

            Q:  I know.  But I'm asking what it's going to cost the U.S.

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  I just said the only cost is the $4 billion in Guam.

 

            Q:  (Off mike.)

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  I'm sorry.

 

            MR. GRONE:  Yes, the only -- the only piece of ours is the Guam piece.  That's correct.

 

            MR. LAWLESS: Okay.

 

            Yes?  Let's do this gentleman here.

 

            Q:  Let me confirm on one thing.  You said something can be done before the 2012.

 

            MR. : Yes.

 

            Q:  Does that mean part of the 8,000 Marine Corps will start leaving Okinawa or you mean, all 8,000 Marine Corps will leave after the completion of a new facility in Guam?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  No.  I didn't say either one.  I said some of the individual moves in Japan will be accomplished before 2012 because it'll be -- we can do that.  We'll do it as fast as we can do it.  If we can do some things by 2010, we'll do it by 2010.  If we can do it by 2011, we'll do it by 2011.

 

            On Okinawa, for example, what has to happen is Futenma has to be relocated and opened so that the old base can be given back, and the Marines have to leave Okinawa so that those facilities that they currently occupied can be consolidated.  And this large-scale consolidation take place probably over two or three years, and then, those facilities, that property given back the Japanese people. That's what I was saying.

 

            I'm sorry.  We've got time for one more question.

 

            Let's do somebody new.

 

            Q:  On the overall agreement, if I could get a sense from you, from either one of you, you talked about maintaining a balance between reducing the burden from the Japanese side and maintaining an effective deterrent force.  So looking at the overall agreement, what thing or couple of things can you point out as being the positive elements that maintain that deterrent force?

 

            MR. LAWLESS:  I think that there -- first of all, there have been a lot of legacy issues in our current arrangements that have sort of dogged or impeded the development of the relationship -- legacy issues such as the desire to relocate Futenma, because it's been a long- standing agreement, but we've never managed to actually get it done. So it was sort of a sore point, an open issue.

 

            The idea is here, we resolve, hopefully in one fell swoop, all or almost all of the long-standing issues that we have that have sort of inhibited the alliance going forward -- resolve those issues, put it on a more balanced basis, have Japan assume more responsibilities in the relationship for the defense of Japan, do a lot of things interactively with Japan that we aren't doing now, or we're only doing in a very small scale.

 

            For example, training together, operating together, having -- sharing facilities together -- all of these are major areas where we could improve the relationships and the functionality of the alliance.

 

            And up until this point in time, we've done it incrementally, but we haven't done it in a wholesale manner.  And that's what we're trying to do here.  We're trying to transform this alliance to one that is much more balanced, interoperational, and where roles and missions are more clearly shared among one another, that we develop complementary capabilities -- for example, when we buy equipment that can interoperate together or work together.  And it's a very broad adjustment that we're making to the alliance, and we need to realign and get all these legacy issues right before we can go forward.  And that's what we're doing.

 

            Thank you.

 

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