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Republican Senator Tom Coburn says $69.5 billion can be saved

By Brett Kelman HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 22, 2011) - Another U.S. senator has said the Department of Defense should cut funding for the buildup in Guam in an effort to reduce federal spending and climb out of national debt.

Sen. Tom Coburn -- a Republican who has represented Oklahoma since 2004 -- recommended cutting buildup funding as part of a massive deficit reduction plan intended to reduce federal spending by 25 percent.

The plan states that the military could save US$69.5 billion by reducing military personnel in Europe and Asia, including money intended for the transfer of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

"The original plan for Guam was the result of a bilateral agreement with the Japanese government to transfer 8,600 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Japan to Guam," the plan states. "These conventional troops could be maintained in the continental United States at a far lower cost."

Coburn, a physician, states in his plan that, since the end of the Cold War, it has become less necessary to keep ground troops on "islands in Asia." In contrast, Washington leaders have said the exact opposite in recent years.

For example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a visit to Guam last October that the U.S. military's crucial role in the Asia-Pacific is growing.

"We are engaging ever more actively in this region," Clinton said during her Guam visit, "with our allies, our partners, with emerging powers, with institutions that are being built in order to keep the peace, advance prosperity and stability."

Also, in January, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a speech in Japan that China and North Korea made it necessary for the U.S. to keep a strong military presence in Asia.

Sens. John McCain, Carl Levin and Jim Webb have proposed an alternative military buildup plan that would shift airmen from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to Andersen Air Force Base, which they felt was underutilized. The plan also includes portions of the Air Force shifting from South Korea to Guam.

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