Friday, September 29, 2006

Military Will Take Land Based on Need (duh)

Land use depends on needs
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

The military development plan for Guam, made public recently by the U.S. Pacific Command, lays out two military training options for the Finegayan area of Dededo -- one that requires the use of non-military land for live-fire training and one that does not.

The non-military land in question is ancestral land located between the military's South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan properties. It currently is owned by two families and the Guam government's Ancestral Lands Commission.

When asked who will decide which option to use and when that will happen, PACOM public affairs spokesman Army Maj. David Doherty yesterday said the Joint Program Office, which will be set up under the Navy, will be responsible for further refining the military's plans for Guam.

"The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan is a planning document and not a program document," he said, adding that program documents will come from the Joint Program Office.

"This is an overall strategic plan," he said.

The development plan for Guam was approved by PACOM in July, but was released this month. In a September letter accompanying the plan, PACOM deputy commander Air Force Gen. Dan Leaf states, "This document contains the operational force laydown requirements for military development expected to occur on Guam over the next decade and beyond."

Leaf added that additional planning is needed to develop specific facility and infrastructure requirements here.

Governor's spokesman Shawn Gumataotao yesterday said military development plans are preliminary, noting that environmental assessments first must be completed during the next two years.

"In meetings with (Defense) Undersecretary Lawless, (Leaf), as well as Adm. (Joseph) Leidig, all three have committed to the governor that they would stay within the footprint of the current federal properties where Navy and Air Force activities are currently under way," he said.

According to the plan, the military currently holds 40,000 acres on Guam.

During an interview with the Pacific Daily News earlier this month, Leaf said each branch of the armed services normally handles its own construction projects, equipment and training requirements, but he said the scope of the work to be done on Guam required the creation of a program office to tie everything together and to address broader issues.

It is expected to cost the Japan and U.S. governments about $10 billion to transfer 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam -- a move that is not expected to happen for at least 6 years, but which first requires additional military facilities on Guam to accommodate the shift.

"The nuts and bolts of military development on Guam will be the responsibility and authority of the Joint Program Office," Leaf said. "They will provide a key interface and work with people in the government of Guam ... It will have representatives from all the services."

Population increase
According to the development plan, the military expects the current population of military personnel and dependents to increase from 14,190 to 40,380 -- an 185 percent increase. The Marines and their families would account for 18,250 of that increase.

To handle the additional personnel and their dependents, the Department of Defense would need to build more schools here, in addition to the new DODEA high school already being built at the Naval Hospital property, the plan states.

The Defense Department's school system on Guam would need two new elementary schools, a middle school, and a new northern Guam high school -- possibly at Finegayan -- to handle 4,160 school-age dependents.

The northern high school would be for students from military facilities in northern Guam, the plan states, and reduce the impact on the high school at Naval Hospital.

Originally Published September 30, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Militay May Retake Land

Military may retake land
Finegayan area to be used for firing ranges
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

The pending transfer of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam means the military needs to create more live-fire ranges here for training, according to a 91-page military development plan from the U.S. Pacific Command.

Among other things, it could mean mortar rounds being launched at a target range in Naval Magazine and the creation of machine gun and rifle ranges in the Finegayan area of Dededo, where the 8,000 Marines would be relocated. Every Marine must be able to use a rifle well, and their skills are tested regularly on the range.

If the Marines want to conduct "fire and movement" training at Finegayan, it also could mean hundreds of acres of recently returned ancestral land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan would once again be needed by the military. Excess military and other federal land since 2002 has been returned to its original owners or their heirs as part of the Guam government's ancestral land process.

Two options
The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan spells out two options for military weapons training in the Finegayan area -- one that uses only existing military land in the area for target practice, and one that would require additional non-military land to provide a safe zone downrange of a "fire and maneuver range" and for additional housing and other quality-of-life development for the base.

The plan states that rifle and machine gun ranges are feasible without additional land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan. It states that the military would prefer most of the training on Guam to be available at home base, "within foot-marching distance." It rules out live artillery training on Guam, and states that the former Andersen South Housing area should be used for training with blank ammunition only.

Military officials in recent months have said that none of the plans for military expansion on Guam are official, and much of what happens here depends on the amount of funding made available for the transfer.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf, deputy commander of Pacific Command, earlier this month told Guam lawmakers "most, if not all," of the development will happen on land currently held by the military.

Caught in the middle
If the military decides it needs the land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan, caught in the middle would be ancestral landowner Jose Pangelinan, 82, and five siblings, who currently are having the property boundaries surveyed as part of the ancestral land return process.

Their land, as well as the ancestral land of the San Nicolas family, would be in the path of the military's "surface danger zone" for the "fire and movement" range, which according to the Marine Corps basic training manual for officers, is the area used when individuals, teams or squads provide cover fire while other individuals, teams or squads advance toward or assault an enemy position.

Most of the land between South Finegayan and NCTS Finegayan is former Spanish "crown land" which means it was not privately held when it was condemned by the federal government and it is being held by the Ancestral Lands Commission to develop for the benefit of those whose family land cannot be returned.

Pangelinan yesterday said it would be an "injustice" if the military decides to again condemn his family property, and said the military should use the property it already has farther north.

"The Navy took it for a long time -- for the last 50 years. They took a lot of our property. Why in the hell do we have to go through that trouble again when we're trying to build a place ourselves?" he asked.

"My father bought that (land) when he was a young man 80 years ago. The Navy came after the war and chased us out (of) there. They gave it (back) to us, part of it, then they want to use it again?"

He said his family has spent two years working on the land return, and, "I was looking forward to finish the job."

The plan also states that the military-held area at Naval Magazine in southern Guam could be used as a range for 60mm and 81mm mortars. The ability to use that area for a mortar range is limited by the nearby storage of munitions, the plan states, so it might be necessary to remove and relocate some storage facilities there.

Originally published September 29, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Guam Coalition Pushes for War Reparations

Guam coalition presses for war reparation
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

A coalition of local organizations is petitioning the U.S. and Japanese governments to compensate the wartime victims of the Japanese Imperial Army’s atrocities out of the $6 billion that Tokyo pledged to help defray the cost of the Marines’ relocation to Guam. The Coalition Group for War Reparation wants the U.S. and Japan “to bring closure to this tragic chapter in the history of Guam” before transferring the 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam.

“The $6 billion committed is not because Japan loves the U.S. On the contrary and what is very obvious is that Japan wants to relieve itself from the burden and problems associated with U.S. Marines occupying Japanese land,” said Dr. Jose T. Nededog, coalition organizer. “The coalition strongly feels that the Japanese government must recognize and accept responsibility for what it did to the peaceful indigenous Chamorro people of Guam during World War II and compensate them accordingly,” Nededog added.

The coalition’s petition is addressed to President Bush, members of the U.S. Congress including Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Attached to the petition and individual letters sent to U.S. and Japanese officials is a copy of Guam Legislature’s Resolution 127, adopted in March, asking the U.S. government to grant Guam $2.4 billion to fund the island‚s infrastructure development needs that the troops relocationentail.

The resolution also requests Bordallo “to propose full funding of Guam war reparations to be incorporated within or without the overall funding and financing of military base expansion on Guam as an appropriate opportunity to address the bring closure to this historic injustice.” Japanese troops invaded Guam on Dec. 8, 1941 and occupied the U.S. territory for 31 months, subjecting the natives to executions, torture, forced labor, forced march and internment in concentration camps.

The U.S. eventually recaptured the island, leading to the 1951 peace treaty that exonerated Japan and spared it from paying war reparations.

“It has been over 62 years since the end of World War II and where the people entitled to reparation were approximately 22,000, they now number approximately 5,000 as they are aging and dying daily. These are the victims or are surviving heirs of such victims,” the petition reads.

In a letter to Koizumi, Nededog said that despite the U.S.’s absolution of Japan, “the government of Japan is still morally and legally obligated” to compensate the people of Guam for the sufferings that they had gone through.

In a separate letter to Rumsfeld, Nededog said resolving the long overdue war reparation “can only bring better relationship between the people of Japan, the U.S. military forces and the people of Guam.”

Pending in the U.S. Congress is Bordallo’s H.R. 1595, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which would provide restitution to the people of Guam who suffered atrocities -- including personal injury, forced labor, forced marches, internment, and death -- during the Japanese occupation of Guam. If passed into law, the bill would grant $25,000 each for Guamanians (or their heirs) who were killed during the Japanese occupation and up to $15,000 for those who were seriously injured.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Army Budget Trouble

Published on Monday, September 25, 2006
by the Los Angeles Times
Army Warns Rumsfeld It's Billions Short
An extraordinary action by the chief of staff sends a message:
The Pentagon must increase the budget or reduce commitments in Iraq and elsewhere.
by Peter Spiegel

WASHINGTON — The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.

The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials.

"This is unusual, but hell, we're in unusual times," said a senior Pentagon official involved in the budget discussions.

Schoomaker failed to submit the budget plan by an Aug. 15 deadline. The protest followed a series of cuts in the service's funding requests by both the White House and Congress over the last four months.

According to a senior Army official involved in budget talks, Schoomaker is now seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, nearly $25 billion above budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. The Army's budget this year is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker's request a 41% increase over current levels.

"It's incredibly huge," said the Army official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity when commenting on internal deliberations. "These are just incredible numbers."

Most funding for the fighting in Iraq has come from annual emergency spending bills, with the regular defense budget going to normal personnel, procurement and operational expenses, such as salaries and new weapons systems.

About $400 billion has been appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through emergency funding measures since Sept. 11, 2001, with the money divided among military branches and government agencies.

But in recent budget negotiations, Army officials argued that the service's expanding global role in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism — outlined in strategic plans issued this year — as well as fast-growing personnel and equipment costs tied to the Iraq war, have put intense pressure on its normal budget.

"It's kind of like the old rancher saying: 'I'm going to size the herd to the amount of hay that I have,' " said Lt. Gen. Jerry L. Sinn, the Army's top budget official. "[Schoomaker] can't size the herd to the size of the amount of hay that he has because he's got to maintain the herd to meet the current operating environment."

The Army, with an active-duty force of 504,000, has been stretched by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. About 400,000 have done at least one tour of combat duty, and more than a third of those have been deployed twice. Commanders have increasingly complained of the strain, saying last week that sustaining current levels will require more help from the National Guard and Reserve or an increase in the active-duty force.

Schoomaker first raised alarms with Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in June after he received new Army budget outlines from Rumsfeld's office. Those outlines called for an Army budget of about $114 billion, a $2-billion cut from previous guidelines. The cuts would grow to $7 billion a year after six years, the senior Army official said.

After Schoomaker confronted Rumsfeld with the Army's own estimates for maintaining the current size and commitments — and the steps that would have to be taken to meet the lower figure, which included cutting four combat brigades and an entire division headquarters unit — Rumsfeld agreed to set up a task force to investigate Army funding.

Although no formal notification is required, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey, who has backed Schoomaker in his push for additional funding, wrote to Rumsfeld early last month to inform him that the Army would miss the Aug. 15 deadline for its budget plan. Harvey said the delay in submitting the plan, formally called a Program Objective Memorandum, was the result of the extended review by the task force.

The study group — which included three-star officers from the Army and Rumsfeld's office — has since agreed with the Army's initial assessment. Officials say negotiations have moved to higher levels of the Bush administration, involving top aides to Rumsfeld and White House Budget Director Rob Portman.

"Now the discussion is: Where are we going to go? Do we lower our strategy or do we raise our resources?" said the senior Pentagon official. "That's where we're at."

Pressure on the Army budget has been growing since late May, when the House and Senate appropriations committees proposed defense spending for 2007 of $4 billion to $9 billion below the White House's original request.

Funding was further complicated this summer, when rising sectarian violence in Baghdad forced the Pentagon to shelve plans to gradually reduce troops in Iraq.

Because of those pressures, the Army in July announced it was freezing civilian hiring and new weapons contract awards and was scaling back on personnel travel restrictions, among other cost cuts.

Schoomaker has been vocal in recent months about a need to expand war funding legislation to pay for repair of hundreds of tanks and armored fighting vehicles after heavy use in Iraq.

He has told congressional appropriators that he will need $17.1 billion next year for repairs, nearly double this year's appropriation — and more than quadruple the cost two years ago. According to an Army budget document obtained by The Times, Army officials are planning repair requests of $13 billion in 2008 and $13.5 billion in 2009.

In recent weeks, however, Schoomaker has become more publicly emphatic about budget shortfalls, saying funding is not enough to pay for Army commitments to the Iraq war and the global strategy outlined by the Pentagon.

"There's no sense in us submitting a budget that we can't execute, a broken budget," Schoomaker said in a recent Washington address.

Military budget expert Steven M. Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent Washington think tank, said that despite widespread recognition that the Army should be getting more resources because of war-related costs, its share of the Defense Department budget has been largely unchanged since the 2003 invasion.

However, a good portion of the new money the Army seeks is not directly tied to the war, Kosiak cautioned, but rather to new weapons it wants — particularly the $200-billion Future Combat System, a family of armored vehicles that is eventually to replace nearly every tank and transporter the Army has.

"This isn't a problem one can totally pass off on current military operations," Kosiak said. "The FCS program is very ambitious — some would say overly ambitious."

Even with Rumsfeld's backing, any request for an increase could force a conflict with the White House Office of Management and Budget, which has repeatedly pushed the Pentagon to restrain its annual budget submission.

"Year after year there were attempts to raise the ceiling, but year after year OMB has refused," said a former Pentagon official familiar with the debate. "The difference this year is the Army has said that if a raise in the ceiling isn't going to be considered, they won't even play the game."

Added the senior Army official: "If you're Rob Portman advising the president of the United States and duking it out with the [secretary of Defense], it's a pretty sporting little event."

Army officials said that Schoomaker's failure to file his 2008 Program Objective Memorandum was not intended as a rebuke to Rumsfeld, and that the Defense secretary had backed Schoomaker since the chief of staff raised the issue with him directly.

Still, some Army officials said Schoomaker expressed concern about recent White House budget moves, such as the decision in May to use $1.9 billion out of the most recent emergency spending bill for border security, including deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops at the Mexican border.

Army officials said $1.2 billion of that money came out of funds originally intended for Army war expenses.

"The president has got to take care of his border mission; he needs to find a source of funds so he can play a zero-sum game — he takes it out of defense," the senior Army official said. "But when he takes it out of defense, the lion's share is coming out of the outfit that's really in extremis in the current operating environment in the war."

Rumsfeld has not set a new deadline for the Army to submit its budget plan. The Army official said staffers thought they could submit a revised plan by November, in time for President Bush to unveil his 2008 budget early next year.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Nuclear Sub News For Guam

Nuclear sub bound for GuamUSS Buffalo will replace USS San Francisco
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

Originally Published September 25, 2006

The nuclear submarine USS Buffalo, which will replace the damaged USS San Francisco as the third submarine homeported on Guam, is scheduled to come here next spring, according to local Navy spokesman Lt. Donnell Evans.

Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo's office last November announced that the Los Angeles-class submarine was expected to be here by this month.

Evans on Friday said April 1, 2007, has been slated as the official date for the USS Buffalo to call Guam home, but said the submarine itself likely will not arrive here until after that date. The Buffalo, which has been homeported at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, since 1984, has a crew of 143, and will join the USS City of Corpus Christi and the USS Houston here. The USS San Francisco left Guam after it was damaged when it crashed into an undersea mountain in January 2005.

The House Armed Services Committee earlier this year received a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, which states that homeporting eight submarines on Guam, in addition to the submarines already here, could reduce the need for submarines because Guam is a more efficient location.

The report, prepared by defense specialist Ronald O'Rourke, and presented to the committee on March 28, 2006, draws much of its information from earlier congressional and Navy studies.

According to the report, the Navy determined that a single submarine based on Guam is worth about 2.3 submarines based in Hawaii or San Diego, in terms of the amount of time it would be able to operate.

"Guam-homeported attack submarines can generate significantly more days on station in Pacific Fleet attack submarine operating areas than can attack submarines homeported in the other two locations," the report states.

And Guam-based submarines could operate even longer, the report states, if submarines were manned in shifts, with three crews for every two submarines.

According to Pacific Daily News files, the Navy intends to shift 60 percent of its submarine fleet to the Pacific Ocean by 2010.

The United States hopes to keep a robust military presence in a region that is home to a growing share of the world's trade and to potential security flashpoints on the Korean peninsula and Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Several women?"

Several women dissatisfied with Leaf's discussion
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Senator Judi Won Pat's (D) women's group met today with PACCOMM deputy commander Lieutenant General Daniel Leaf to discuss cultural and social impacts that will occur with the influx of military personnel on Guam. Some of the women present during today's meeting were not satisfied with the amount of time they were allowed to meet with General Leaf.

Former senator Hope Cristobal summarized the session by saying, "I was hoping that he would be able to expound a little bit more about the military's views about some of the issues that we presented today, so generally speaking, I wasn't happy about his responses."

Although Lisa Natividad of the Organization for the Protection of Indigenous Rights was happy that the general took time out of his busy schedule to meet with the women's group, she was not entirely satisfied with the results of the meeting. "I think today's meeting was a good first step in terms of opening the dialogue with the U.S. military regarding the relocation of these Marines to our island," she said, "however I don't feel there was enough detail that was discussed and in terms of the commitments of what our needs are it seems that the general wasn't in the position to make those commitments. And so to a large degree I think that maybe the right players need to be on the table because there's lots of concerns that we need to have addressed that aren't going to be able to be touched it seems."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Guam to Receive More than Just Marines

Combat Communications Squadron to move to Guam

BY Josh Rogin
Published on Aug. 16, 2006

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The 607th Combat Communications Squadron will leave in the coming weeks and move equipment and personnel to Guam, an Air Force official said today.

As part of the 607th Air Support Operations Group based at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, the squadron is responsible for rapid mobile communications deployment for wartime contingencies or natural disasters in the entire Korea area of operations.

“That leaves us short now of a combat [communications] capability that can go anywhere within the theater,” Col. Vincent Valdespino, director of communications and information at Pacific Air Forces headquarters, told an audience at the Air Force Information Technology Conference at the Auburn University campus.

A limited presence will remain to maintain the Korean Air Operations Center in Osan. But overall command, control and communications functions will be moved to the United States and its territories in the next few years, he said.

About 150 members of the 607th combat communications team will be relocated to Guam, beginning this year. A new squad will be deployed there with its completion expected in 2009. Military construction and operations and maintenance funding has already been secured, Valdespino said.

The move is part of an overall reorientation of command and control in the Pacific theater. Known as the strategic triangle concept, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam will form the base of operations for Pacific Command. The strategy aims to position critical resources on U.S.-controlled soil, while also allowing forces to be deployed to Asia or to the United States to assist in homeland defense missions.

Guam will receive the largest amount of equipment as part of this initiative. The island is set to host continuous, permanent Stryker, tanker, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance presence in the form of Global Hawk long-range unmanned aerial vehicles.

The move is also part of an overall decrease of U.S. forces in South Korea. In mid-2004, the United States and South Korea agreed to the phased withdrawal of 12,500 U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula to be completed by 2008.

President Bush has pledged to move 70,000 U.S. service members and 100,000 family members and civilian employees to the United States in the next decade.