Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times wrote that a change of command ceremony was held at the Futenma Air Station on Tuesday for Lt. Gen. James Bierman, who assumed command of III Marine Expeditionary Force and the post of Okinawa Area Coordinator. Okinawa Times quoted Lt. Gen. Bierman as saying he will make utmost efforts to maintain peace in the region. The III MEF commander reportedly told the press afterward that he hopes to provide reliable deterrence by strengthening coordination with the SDF and that Okinawa is an important base for the defense of Japan. In response to Ginowan City’s call for the suspension of aircraft operations between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., Lt. Gen. Bierman reportedly said the Marines will make efforts to minimize the impact of flight training on residents, adding, however, that their flight routes are in accordance with an agreement with Japan.
Ryukyu Shimpo quoted Lt. Gen. Bierman as telling the press that Okinawa is an ideal location to conduct joint drills and other operations with the SDF. The paper interpreted this remark to mean that the Marine commander hopes to strengthen coordination with the SDF. Concerning the U.S. Marines’ planned force transformation by 2030, Lt. Gen. Bierman reportedly said some very innovative events will occur in the next two years, citing the establishment of the Marine Littoral Regiment.