Camp S D Butler
Perhaps the most unique characteristic about Okinawa is that unlike most duty stations, MCB Camp Butler is physically separated throughout the island into a number of different camps. For example, the distance between the northernmost camp, Camp Gonsalves, and the southernmost camp, Camp Kinser, is over 50 miles. On the winding roads of Okinawa, the distance is considerably longer. As with Camp Gonsalves and Camp Kinser, all the Marine Corps camps on the island and Camp Fuji on mainland Japan, fall under the one title, MCB Camp Butler.
Despite the camps' physical isolation from each other, convenient services and facilities make them all virtually a mini-base of their own. Except Camp Gonsalves, each has an exchange outlet, ample concessions, clubs, a USO facility, library, bowling alley, theater, gymnasium, chapel, bank, post office, dining facilities and cash sales outlet. While each camp certainly offers numerous conveniences, some Marines and their families may want to explore bases beyond their work or home. Perhaps the easiest way to get from camp to camp is through the free intra-base shuttle bus service, which runs Monday through Friday. On weekends a liberty bus is available. Although Marines here work in a foreign country, they'll soon find that the general arrangements and expectations aren't much different than any other duty station in the states. Annual training requirements such as physical fitness tests, rifle and pistol qualification, and gas chamber orientation are as familiar to the Okinawa Marines as they are to any other leatherneck. On the more unique aspect of working here, Okinawa encourages a strong blend of interservice harmony. Soldiers are assigned to several commands here, including Torii Station and Fort Buckner. In addition to 7th Fleet obligations, many Sailors work with Marine units at White Beach and Camp Shields; and thousands of airmen work at Kadena Air Base.
Most Marines stationed on Okinawa belong to the III Marine Expeditionary Force, III MEF, headquartered at Camp Courtney. The III MEF activated during World War II (1942), where it fought as the Marine Amphibious Force. It carried this name through Vietnam, after which it re-settled in Okinawa in 1971. Within the III MEF's four major elements are several major subordinate commands, including: the 3d Marine Division, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, 3d Force Service Support Group, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the HQ & SVC BN, III MEF.
Marine Corps Bases, Japan, the senior Okinawa Marine Corps command, controls all Marine commands on Okinawa and mainland Japan, to include Camp Fuji and Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni. Marine Corps Base Camp Butler's history began in 1955, when it was located at Camp Tengan near Camp Courtney. Today, the Camp Butler headquarters is located at Building 1, Camp Butler.
Camp S D Butler
Geographically Separated or
|Camp Kinser||3rd FSSG||10 Miles north of Naha|
|Camp Fuji||On the Mainland Japan|
|MCAS Futenma||1st MAW||4.8 km south of Camp FOSTER|
|Camp Courtney||III MEF||8 km North of Camp Foster|
|Camp Hansen||3rd Mar Div||20 Miles North of Camp Foster|
|Camp Schwab||4th Mar Regi||35 Miles North of Camp Foster|
|Camp Gonsalves||MCB Northern Training Area|
|Camp Shields||Navy Sea Bees||5 Miles North of Camp Foster|
|NSGA Hanza||Navy Security Group|
Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu chain, is an exciting land, with vivid reminders of a proud,thousand-year-old history tightly woven in the modern-day existence it displays today. The island has been a favorite training area for the Marine Corps since post-war units were based here more than 40 years ago. Today, the Corps has eight different facilities on Okinawa to call home: Camps Gonsalves, Schwab, Hansen, Courtney, Lester, Foster, Kinser, and Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma. Beside a significant Marine Corps presence here, Okinawa is also home to a number of major Navy, Army and Air Force units and facilities.
A combination of oriental and occidental customs and cultures, the first written records of Okinawa's ancient ancestry have been traced to about 603 A.D. At this time,the Chinese were sending missions to Okinawa to demand tribute and submission. The proud Okinawan people refused the demands, however, and seven years later the Chinese returned with greater forces to invade and rule the island for about 500 years.
The island's first kingdom was established by Shunten, the lord of Urasoe in the 12th century. This monarchy system lasted until the 14th century when Okinawa split into three different kingdoms: Hokuzan, Nanzan and Chuzan. For the next 200 years Okinawa enjoyed a flourishing trade with China, Japan, Korea and the East Indies. In 1609, however, this golden era came to an abrupt halt when Samuri warriors from Satsuma, an area in southern Japan, invaded Okinawa. For the next 270 years, the Satsuma would demand taxes from Okinawans and manipulate their trading market as payment for protecting their island.
In 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry visited the Royal palace at Shuri. About this same time, a number of Western nations, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Russia were attempting to open treaty relations with Okinawa. In 1868, during the Meiji Restoration, Japan tightened its grip on Okinawa by sending a military detachment there.
In 1879, weary of Okinawan objections to its military forces, the Japanese government dissolved the royal government and formally annexed the island kingdom. Okinawa was organized as the 47th district of Japan, supervised by a governor, very similar to an American state. Although America was acquainted with Okinawa in the early 1800s, for most Americans the small island nation went completely unobserved until the abrupt advent of World War II.
Situated on the southern approaches to Japan, the Ryukyu Island chain was geographically situated as to be virtually unavoidable in any American offensive strategy against mainland Japan. The inevitable soon became history when Okinawa became the arena for one of the most ferocious battles of the war. By June, 1944, the Japanese army arrived in force. Casualties mounted quickly as US forces saturated military targets with bombs four months later.
In March, 1945, the first American troops landed on the Kerama Islands as the springboard for America's island leapfrogging strategy. Okinawa was next in line and, on April 1, 1945, the invasion began. After 11 weeks of fierce fighting, the battle of Okinawa was over June 20, 1945. Two months later Japan surrendered. Okinawa was one of the longest and hardest fought campaigns in the history of World War II. Total American battle casualties were estimated at 49,151, including 12,500 killed or missing. Japanese soldiers killed were about 60,000 while one-third of the Okinawan population, about 150,000 died in the "Typhoon of Steel."
Because it was considered the key to the invasion of Japan, and because it is also considered a key geographical factor to the defense of the free world in the Pacific area, Okinawa now owns the nickname, "Keystone of the Pacific." As relief funds, appropriated by the US Congress, began to get pumped into Okinawa in 1946, the island began traveling the steady path to economic recovery. That same year, Okinawa set up its first general hospital, civilian newspaper, bank and courts. By 1950, the country had resumed its foreign trade lines and established a civil government system throughout the Ryukyu islands.
In 1951, a US -Japanese peace treaty gave Americans complete administrative control of the Ryukyus for an indefinite period. By referring to the island as a "residual sovereignty," however, the United States still suggested recognition of Japan's basic ownership of the islands. In addition, the United States promised that, when international circumstances warranted, it would return administrative control of the chain to Japan. Administrative authority of the Ryukyu Islands was transferred back to Japan May 15, 1972, and Okinawa became a prefectural district of Japan once again.
Additional Info On Marines In Okinawa Below!!
The Department of Defense believes that Marine Corps forces along with other US forces on Okinawa satisfy the US national security strategy by visably demonstrating the US commitment to security in the region. These forces are thought to deter aggression, provide a crisis response capability should deterrence fail, and avoid the risk that US allies may interpret the withdrawal of forces as a lessening of US commitment to peace and stability in the region.
By 2003 the US was considering moving most of the 20,000 Marines on Okinawa to new bases that would be established in Australia; increasing the presence of US troops in Singapore and Malaysia; and seeking agreements to base Navy ships in Vietnamese waters and ground troops in the Philippines. For the Marines based on Okinawa, most for months without their families, the US is considering a major shift. Under plans on the table, all but about 5,000 of the Marines would move, possibly to Australia.
During 2004 Japan and the United States continued discussions on plans to scale back the US military presence in the country. Tokyo will ask Washington to move some Marines now on the southern island of Okinawa outside the country. There is no doubt some changes will be made to the Okinawa forces. The US Marines are a tremendous burden in Okinawa, particularly the infantry and the training needs of the infantry in Okinawa can't really be met on the island, given the sensitivities there. Okinawa accounts for less than one percent of Japan's land, but hosts about two-thirds of the 40,000 American forces in the country. In recent years, Okinawans have grown increasingly angry about the military presence, because of land disputes and highly publicized violent crimes committed by a few U.S. troops. In return for moving troops outside the country, Japan would provide pre-positioning facilities for weapons, fuel and other equipment for the US military.
Okinawa's proximity to potential regional trouble spots promotes the early arrival of US military forces due to shorter transit times and reduces potential problems that could arise due to late arrival. The cost of this presence is shared by the government of Japan, which provides bases and other infrastructure on Okinawa rent-free and pays part of the annual cost of Okinawa-based Marine Corps forces.
In 1996 the Okinawa Prefectural Government drew up an Action Program for the return of US bases in Okinawa. It called for the return of US bases in three stages to achieve an Okinawa free of military bases by the year 2015.
The early US explorers labeled Okinawa as the "Keystone of the Pacific" since Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Manila, and Tokyo all lie within a 1,500 km radius of the islands. Okinawa is equidistant from several parts of the Pacific, whether it's Tokyo, Seoul, Taiwan or the Philippines. If there is a trouble spot in the Pacific and [DoD] needs to move forces quickly, Okinawa has the facilities to support that response. The forward deployment on Okinawa significantly shortens transit times, thereby promoting early arrival in potential regional trouble spots such as the Korean peninsula and the Taiwan straits, a significant benefit in the initial stages of a conflict. For example, it takes 2 hours to fly to the Korean peninsula from Okinawa, as compared with about 5 hours from Guam, 11 hours from Hawaii, and 16 hours from the continental United States. Similarly, it takes about 1 1/2 days to make the trip from Okinawa by ship to South Korea, as compared with about 5 days from Guam, 12 days from Hawaii, and 17 days from the continental United States.
Okinawa is the largest of more than 140 islands in Okinawa Prefecture (of which only 47 are populated). Measuring 67 miles long by 2 to 17 miles wide, and covering a total area of 454 sq. miles, Okinawa's highest point is Mt. Yonaha at 1494 feet. Often referred to as "Japan's Hawaii," Okinawa's average yearly temperature is 72° F , with an average of 82°F in July and 61°F in January, June to October is typhoon season; the rainy season lasts only from May to June. Annual rainfall amounts to 93 inches, however Okinawa topography and lack of natural dams can lead to periodic water rationing.
Okinawa was once an independent nation known as the Kingdom of the Ryukyu Islands. However, in 1609 Okinawa was conquered by force and occupied by the Japanese clan Satsuma. Yet they remained the Kingdom of the Ryukyu Islands until the Meiji Restoration took place and formed the Government of Japan. In 1879 the islands were officially recognized as the Japanese prefecture, Okinawa.
The US military presence in Japan and on Okinawa began at the end of World War II. Although the US occupation in Japan ended in 1952, US administration continued on Okinawa until 1972. In 1951, when the San Francisco Peace Treaty was officially recognized, Okinawa legally became a possession of the United States. In 1972, control of Okinawa was reverted to Japan The US-Japan security relationship is defined by a number of documents, including the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, which commits both countries to meet common dangers, and a Status of Forces Agreement that governs the legal status of US forces and their dependents stationed in Japan. The US forces on Okinawa occupy about 10 percent of the land in the prefecture. Japan provides part of the cost of the forward deployment of US forces throughout Japan, through an annual burden-sharing payment. This payment was about $4.9 billion in fiscal year 1997.
Since the end of World War II, US forces have mounted major operations from Japan when needed. Among the most important of these operations was the initial defense of South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War, when Eighth US Army units left occupation duties in Japan to help defend South Korea. The United States again used its bases in Japan and on Okinawa to fight the Vietnam War. Finally, elements of the III Marine Expeditionary Force deployed from their bases on Okinawa to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
The Korea Conflict of 1950 emphasized the need for maintaining a naval presence in Okinawa. On February 15, 1951, the US Naval Facility, Naha, was activated and later became commissioned on April 18th. Commander Fleet Activities, Ryukyus was commissioned on March 8, 1957. On May 15, 1972, upon reversion of Okinawa to Japanese administration, the two organizations were combined to form Commander Fleet Activities, Okinawa. With the relocations of Commander Fleet Activities, Okinawa to Kadena Air Base on May 7, 1975, the title then became Commander Fleet Activities, Okinawa/US Naval Air Facility, Kadena.
For the most part, service members on Okinawa hold down a typical stateside work schedule. The island's strategic location comes into play during contingencies and exercises, however. The USS Independence carrier battle group took on equipment and supplies at White Beach during the 1996 dispute between China and Taiwan. During the multinational exercise Tandem Thrust, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force loaded troops, supplies and equipment onto waiting ships at White Beach.
Much of the news has focused on complaints of a small group of Okinawan landowners who protest US use of their property for military operations. According to the US military, less than 1 percent of the 32,000 owners object to military use of the land, which falls under the US -Japan security agreement. Some Okinawans object to the noise generated by US operations, especially around the Air Force's Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma (which are located in the middle of urban areas), and risks to civilians from serious military accidents, including crashes of aircraft. However, there is no consensus among Okinawans on the bases. Since the employment of Okinawans on U.S. bases is not inconsequential, there is even a sizable though silent constituency in favor of the status quo.
Discontent among the people of Okinawa regarding the US military presence and its impacts has been rising for years. Their chief complaint is that the Okinawa prefecture hosts over half of the US forces in Japan and that about 75 percent of the land US forces occupy in Japan is on Okinawa. They also believe the US presence has hampered economic development. The abduction and rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl in September 1995 by three US servicemembers prompted the US and Japanese governments to establish the SACO in November 1995. To reduce the impact of the US military presence on the people of Okinawa, the SACO developed recommendations to realign, consolidate, and reduce US facilities and adjust operational procedures.
In December 1996, after 12 months of study and consultations, the governments in Tokyo and Washington and their representatives on the Special Action Committee on Okinawa produced their final report concerning the return of US military base properties on the island. The United States agreed to return to Japanese control about 21 percent of the land on Okinawa used for US military bases, adjust training and operational procedures, implement noise abatement procedures, and change Status of Forces Agreement procedures.
Land to be Returned to Japan Under SACO Recommendations Planned return Replacement Land return date facility ------------------------------ ------------------ ------------------ MCAS Futenma Between 2001 and Sea-based facility 2003 About 9,900 acres of the March 2003 Remaining Northern Northern Training Area Training Area plus new acreage to be added by March 1998 Aha training area March 1998 Acreage added to the Northern Training Area Gimbaru training area March 1998 Kin Blue Beach training area and Camp Hansen Sobe communications site March 2001 Camp Hansen Yomitan auxiliary airfield March 2001 Ie Jima auxiliary airfield Most of Camp Kuwae March 2008 Camp Zukeran and other facilities Senaha communications station March 2001 Torii communications station Small portion of the Between 1998 and Remaining Makiminato service area 2001 Makiminato service area and Kadena Air Base Naha Port No date Urasoe pier area established Housing consolidation on Camps March 2008 Remaining portions Kuwae and Zukeran of Camps Kuwae and Zukeran ----------------------------------------------------------------------
The bases and communities cooperate on issues affecting them both. Military aviation units have adjusted flying hours to reduce aircraft noise over civilian neighborhoods and schools. Okinawan real estate agents go out of their way to help service families find off-base housing near their work place and schools. And both communities -- military and civilian -- invite each other to participate in festivals and other social events.
Long-range plans call for construction of new family housing that would increase the number of units available by several hundred. Meanwhile, single-member dorms are going up across the island. Schools aren't a problem on Okinawa, where Department of Defense Dependent Schools operates modern facilities in or near family housing. Child care facilities are still catching up, particularly at Kadena, where more than 4,000 military families from all service branches reside. In November 1996, Kadena opened an $11 million child development center -- its second -- cutting the waiting list in half. A third center will open in 1998, almost eliminating the waiting list.
Recreational facilities add to the list of quality of life improvements at Kadena and throughout Okinawa. Because of the higher cost of living off base, the military has a responsibility to provide quality on-base eating and recreational facilities. Kadena has renovatedits four restaurants and all clubs, the general said, while all the services are improving facilities at their posts and the Okuma joint recreation center on the northwest shore of Okinawa. Several American chains also operate restaurants on the island.
Service morale, welfare and recreation programs cater to all age groups. Because this is an isolated, overseas location, the services place more emphasis on recreational outlets. Unaccompanied Marines and others on rotational deployments rely heavily on military shuttle buses, which provide transportation between bases, and on commercial taxis.
MWR offers a shuttle bus on days of liberty to the various camps on the island. It runs every two hours and rotates between Camp Shields, Camp Hansen, Kadena and Camp Foster. Also, they offer a bus to White Beach, which leaves in the morning and arrives back at Camp Shields later that evening. Taxis are another source of reliable public transportation. One advantage taxis have over buses is that most will accept Japanese or American currency. They usually carry a currency exchange rate chart with them, so it’s not necessary to know Japanese.
MCB Camp S. D. Butler began on 15 October 2001 to operate no-fee Bus Service to meets the transportation needs of the Marine Corps Community on Okinawa using modern, efficient Coaches. In its first 18 months of service, The Green Line grew from 10 signature coaches to 37 signature coaches and was to soon thereafter reach the one millionth passenger mark.
Owning a car makes it a lot easier to get to some of the more remote recreation centers -- and anywhere off base. Not many service members ship vehicles to Okinawa, but they can buy good cars and insurance for under $2,000. Okinawa definitely offers a distinct driving experience. Unlike the United States, people drive on the left side of the road, which requires some getting used to. The slow lane is on the left, and the fast lane is on the right, although there usually isn't a significant difference between either. All speed limits are marked in kilometers per hour and, except for the Okinawa Expressway, there is no authorized speed zone beyond 60 kilometers per hour, or about 37 mph. In addition, all traffic signs here conform to international standards. Many roads are much narrower than standard American roads, traffic congestion is more the rule than the exception, and coral dust-laden roads can get slick fast after it rains. Needless to say, careful, defensive driving is an absolute necessity. Drinking and driving and illegal drugs are dealt with very severely by both Japanese and Military authorities.
The Okinawa Exchange serves more than 24,000 military members and Defense Department civilians as well as over 31,000 other authorized customers on this small island. The number of Exchange Facilities is equally impressive, with more than 31 retail facilities such as shoppettes and main stores, 7 theaters, 160 concessionaires, 8 service stations, over 92 food facilities and 5 Military Clothing Sales Stores. The Kadena Base Exchange and the Camp Foster Post Exchange are the two biggest main store operations on the island.
The honors for the largest post exchange in the Pacific belongs to Kadena Base Exchange. While a lot is going inside the store, it is only the hub of a vast shopping area that offers a wide variety of goods and services. Customers can find out about Internet access through AT&T, New Car Sales, hairstyling for the family, some of the best island craftsmanships by our concessionaires, and even a large assortment of merchandise for active outdoor lifestyles and hobbies. Food is available at Anthony’s Pizza, Frank’s Franks, Baskin Robbins and the Burger King Express located conveniently within
The Foster Post Exchange forms the hub for a complex includes a mall packed full of concessions PowerZone, BookMark, a major theater, a service station, and food facilities that include Burger King, Charley's Steakery, Pretzel Mania, RobinHood deli, Anthony’s Pizza all combined to make this one of the best places to shop on Okinawa.
Taking leave from Okinawa is easy for those heading to another location in the Pacific, but a little harder to return to the United States. There are no direct flights from Okinawa to the US. Instead, commercial flights depart Naha International Airport for Nagoya, Osaka or Tokyo, where connecting flights are available. Depending on destination, round-trip airfare can run several thousand dollars -- prohibitive costs that add to the sense of isolation many Americans on Okinawa feel. Special leave programs make some space available on military airlift and contract flights. However, it's imperative to good morale that the services provide a full agenda of off-duty activities.
Each service conducts special programs for single members. For example, the Navy's Single Sailor Program sponsors community relations projects and orphanage visits. Chapels conduct similar programs for singles and families, while recreation centers and youth centers host trips to recreational parks and tourist attractions on and off island. And every base provides high school equivalency, continuing education and college degree programs, conducting courses at lunch, after work and on weekends.
On Mabuni Hill, next to quiet cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there are 119 memorial monuments. The memorials are in honor of the men who lost their lives during the Pacific Islands campaign of WWII. The cliffs are known to some Americans as "Suicide Cliffs," because LT General Mitsuru Ushijima, the Commanding General of the 32nd Imperial Japanese Army, performed seppuku, or "hara-kiri," here. The other reason for the name is that it is believed that some of General Ushijima’s men jumped from these 500-foot cliffs when the Japanese were defeated. Okinawa’s Peace Memorial Hall is just north of the cliffs. The hall houses the Peace Buddha Statue.