November 27, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo
Special correspondent Yukiyo Zaha reports from Washington DC
On November 26, the Ryukyu Shimpo learned that although the total number of U.S. military installations outside of the United States has decreased more than 30 percent from 761 installations in the last ten years, U.S. military installations in Japan have decreased by only three. According to the base structure report compiled by the U.S. Department of Defense for the U.S. 2018 fiscal year (October 2017 to September 2018), there are currently 514 overseas U.S. military installations in 45 countries, a reduction of 247 from the 761 installations present in 2008. Among those, at least 13 of the 23 overseas U.S. Marine Corps bases are in Okinawa. Okinawa’s U.S. base burden is brought into sharp relief once again against a backdrop of U.S. base closures worldwide.
There were more than 2,000 overseas U.S. bases in 1945, but after the end of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, this number trended downward. The U.S. carried out reduction and realignment of unnecessary bases at home and overseas with the aim of increasing efficiency of military installation operations, and after a major reduction in the defense budget in 2015, the DoD announced a realignment plan that involved consolidating U.S. military installations in the U.K., Germany, Belgium, and other parts of Europe.
In fiscal 2018, the country having the largest number of U.S. military installations was Germany at 194, followed by Japan at 121 and South Korea at 83. There has been a reduction of 74 installations in Germany and four installations in South Korea over the last ten years.
Of these overseas U.S. military installations, 202 are Army bases (a reduction of 125 since 2008), 166 are Air Force bases (a reduction of 93), 123 are Navy bases (a reduction of 26), and 23 are Marine Corps bases (a reduction of 3).
In 2008, overseas U.S. Marine Corps installations numbered 24 in Japan (including 15 in Okinawa, two at Camp Fuji, two at Iwakuni, and five undisclosed), one in South Korea, and one in Kenya. In 2018, these installations numbered 22 in Japan (13 in Okinawa, one at Fuji, one at Iwakuni, and seven undisclosed) and one in South Korea; this is a reduction of only three installations, with the majority still concentrated in Okinawa.
The 2018 report explains, “With the increased focus on reducing the federal government’s real estate footprint, DoD…has worked aggressively to not increase infrastructure square footage from a baseline established in 2015.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)