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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 15) - Japanese media are reporting that the United States has informally proposed a plan to integrate a force on Andersen Air Force Base into Yokota Air Base in a Tokyo suburb.

Kyodo News service reported the issue, which also was carried by Japan Today, which calls itself Japan’s leading international news network.

The United States plans to dissolve the 13th Air Force on Guam and integrate its functions into the 5th Air Force at Yokota base in western Tokyo, according to Kyodo News, whose report was carried by Japan Today yesterday.

A brief statement from Andersen Air Force Base neither confirmed nor denied the media report.

The Air Force’s and the U.S. military’s leadership in the Pacific "are currently reviewing plans to strengthen their defense posture as part of a larger, U.S. government global effort," said Tech. Sgt. Dale Yates, the Andersen spokesman on duty, reading a statement over the phone. "We are currently consulting with our allies in the region and will continue to do so before any decisions are made."

In terms of personnel numbers, Yates said the 13th Air Force on Andersen is smaller than the personnel force under the 36th Air Base Wing on Andersen Air Force Base. The personnel numbers for the 13th Air Force weren’t immediately available.

Hierarchy-wise, however, Yates said the 13th Air Force, which has its headquarters at Andersen, has jurisdiction over the 36th Air Base, which comprises the bulk of the personnel on Andersen.

A change in location is not new for the 13th Air Force. It was first activated at New Caledonia in the Coral Sea on January 13, 1943, and established its headquarters at Clark Field in the Philippines in January 1946, according to Andersen Air Force Base’s Web site. In December 1948, the unit moved to Kadena, Okinawa, where it remained for only a few months before returning to Clark in May 1949.

In June 1991, the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption buried Clark in volcanic ash and forced the closure of the base later that year, the Web site stated. The 13th Air Force relocated to Andersen Air Force Base and officially established its headquarters on Guam on December 2, 1991.

Governor Felix Camacho issued a statement in reaction to the news report.

"It seems incomprehensible that the Air Force would make over $300 million in infrastructure improvements at Andersen to then diminish its role even further," Camacho said.

Camacho said the government will continue with efforts to increase the military presence on Guam, including continuing to seek support from top officials in the military and Washington, D.C.

"Guam adds far too much value to the U.S. military mission in this region for a report such as this to alarm anyone," Camacho said.

July 16, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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