WASHINGTON – The United States has no immediate plans to reduce its military presence in Okinawa, but may look for more efficient ways to deploy U.S. forces in the prefecture.
Adm. Thomas Fargo, nominee for commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii, said Friday in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, “It’s clear to me that the presence of our combat capability for right now shouldn’t be diminished.
“That shouldn’t restrict us from looking at what kinds of efficiencies we might be able to garner while providing that combat capability forward.”
Okinawa hosts the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan, and there has long been pressure from Okinawa residents for a lighter burden.
Fargo also stressed the importance of a quick response by U.S. forces in Japan to emergencies in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I think that it’s very clear to me that the forward-deployed naval forces that we currently have, stationed mainly in Japan, are a huge advantage to the Pacific Command and the nation,” Fargo said.
“That presence has been key to the relative peace we’ve had in the Pacific for the past 50 years.”
Fargo underscored the importance of U.S. military cooperation with Indonesia to fight terrorism, calling the task an “important priority” to the Pacific Command.
“Indonesia could potentially become a haven for terrorists. So we do see a clear interest in improving Indonesia’s ability to deal with the terrorist threat in Southeast Asia,” he said.
Fargo, currently commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, is expected to assume the post of commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command in early May, replacing Adm. Denis Blair.
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