Forces: July 3, 2004

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Plans to move U.S. troops out of South Korea are only a part of larger, more extensive plan for redeploying U.S. forces across the Pacific. Up to six additional submarines are being considered for home-porting in Guam, in addition to the three attack subs already based there. It is likely at least one of the subs would be a SSGN Trident submarine converted to carry a mixture of conventional cruise missiles and special forces personnel. Basing of more than four subs on Guam will require upgrading and expanding the islands infrastructure. Another move will likely shift a carrier strike group out of San Diego to Hawaii. 

South Korea is likely to lose about a third of U.S. troops stationed in the country, about 12,500 including the 3,600 brigade from the 2nd Infantry Division deploying to Iraq in August. The total number of troops stationed in Japan should remain around 47,000, but officials are looking at moving troops out of Okinawa bases to other locations, a measure long sought by local Okinawa officials. 

Advanced teams are also scouting Australian training facilities,  and an announcement is likely to be made in July. Two different sites in Australia are under consideration, with officials drooling at the amount of room available for maneuvers and live-fire exercises. U.S. sealift ships have already demonstrated the capability to offload M1 Abrams tanks at a commercial port near the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area on Queenslands east coast. The area is also large enough to support large-scale amphibious exercises. There are also large gun and air-to-ground ranges available. It is an open question if the U.S. will pre-position heavy equipment at the area. The Australian Defense Force expects to benefit by the injection of funds to upgrade and enhance existing facilities, especially by adding computer-based training systems. Doug Mohney


 


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