• Camp Blaz will become a “strategic hub” and a joint and allied training center.

The Marine Corps has formally opened its first new base in 70 years: Guam’s Camp Blaz, which is to become a “strategic hub” as the U.S. military expands its Pacific operations.

“Forward, persistent presence is key to the regional security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz is a critical part of that,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said at the ceremony.

The Corps “administratively activated” Camp Blaz on Oct. 1, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the ceremony, a service spokesman told Defense One. It was “reactivated” on Thursday, becoming the service’s first newly constructed base in seven decades, a press release said.

The base “will serve as a strategic hub as the Department of Defense realizes the vision of the 2022 National Defense Strategy,” the press release said. “The base’s forward presence and engagement in the Pacific will play an essential role in strengthening the ability of the U.S. and its allies and partners for a collective defense and to promote regional security.”

The Guam base will also serve as a training area for U.S. and regional forces, said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh on Thursday.

It will eventually host some 5,000 Marines: 1,300 from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and 3,700 more rotating through, Stars and Stripes reported in December.

The base was conceived in 2012 as part of a U.S.-Japan agreement to move Marines off Guam.

Camp Blaz was “an agreement that has taken a while to get up and running,” Singh said.

Japan partially funded current construction projects at the base. Berger said Blaz “shows our undivided relationship with the Government of Japan.”

Some 9,000 Marines and family members are to leave Guam starting next year. But others will stay. On Jan. 11, the service announced that 3rd Marine Division headquarters and 12th Marine Regiment will remain in Okinawa, where the regiment will transform into the Corps’ next Marine Littoral Regiment by 2025.

“The 12th MLR will add to a ready and capable stand-in force in the first island chain, prepared to support the U.S-Japanese alliance, bolstering our ability to support deterrence efforts and respond to contingencies, while the 3d Marine Division HQ will provide command and control capabilities,” the Marine Corps statement said.

The Corps’ first base on the island was Marine Barracks Guam, established in 1899. The Barracks was reestablished after World War II, then deactivated in 1992.

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