About 2,500 Marines are expected to move to a proposed Marine Corps base in Guam in 2021, said Cmdr. Daniel Schaan, director of the Joint Guam Program Office Forward, which coordinates the relocation.
The remaining half of the total of 5,000 Marines who would move from Okinawa to Guam will be here by 2026, Schaan said.
It's been a decade since the military began discussing plans to build a Marine Corps base here, following the 2006 U.S.-Japan agreement to reduce the presence of U.S. troops in Okinawa.
The plan first received the green light in 2010, but after members of the local community voiced concerns that the military expansion was too big, and too soon, the military scaled down its plan. In September last year, the revised plan's second go-signal, through a document called record of decision, was released.
Although the plan has taken years of studies and revisions, Schaan said it's "still realistic" that the first 2,500 Marines would move in by 2021.
Schaan's Guam office reports to an assistant secretary of the Navy at the Pentagon.
He was the guest speaker at the Guam Contractors Association meeting Wednesday.
Some of the contracts related to the construction of the Marine Corps base in Dededo's Finegayan area could be awarded later this year, he said.
US election not a factor
Schaan said in his personal view, he's confident the proposed Marine base will proceed regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November.
Congress authorized funding for the relocation, in part through the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, Schaan said.
In the 2016 defense spending law, Congress approved $126 million worth of projects for the Guam relocation and another $250 million is being discussed as part of the proposed 2017 defense spending bill, he said.
"All that progress is independent of what happens in the election cycle," Schaan said.
Also, the relocation is part of a bilateral agreement between the United States and Japan, Schaan said.
Japan is helping pay the cost to move the 5,000 Marines from Okinawa and build their base and support facilities in Guam. Japan's share of the $8 billion cost is about $3 billion, Schaan said.
The bigger military expansion plan would have moved 8,600 Marines and 9,000 dependents to Guam.
The downsized plan involves a much smaller number of the Marines' dependents — 1,300 — because many of the Marines will be here on a rotational, rather than permanent basis, the revised plan states.
The Marine base will be built on existing federal land in Finegayan, Dededo, near Andersen Air Force Base. The Marines' family housing units will be developed within the fence at Andersen.