Friday, June 30, 2006
Union official fears new policy will cut opportunities for locals
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, June 29, 2006
U.S. NAVAL HOSPITAL, Guam — Since the Pentagon announced this spring the move of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, politicians, merchants and residents have been holding planning meetings and creating wish lists as they wait to hear how more than $10 billion in military investment will benefit their island.
Military leaders, who have yet to release many details about the buildup here, have assured Guam officials that the local community will share in parts of the largess.
Yet one example of how the local community may not share in long-term benefits is at the military’s elementary and secondary school district, headquartered near the Naval hospital just outside the capital city of Hagatna.
The change will make the military school system’s recruiting pool substantially bigger but also will shrink job opportunities for candidates now on the island.
The change will alter the faculty’s cultural, ethnic and racial makeup and create a teaching staff more representative of its students, according to Michael Diekmann, superintendent of the Department of Defense’s Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools for Guam.
“We want (the teachers) to reflect the student population,” Diekmann said, to include a variety of backgrounds and people more accustomed to moving around the world, watching a family member go off to war and living in unfamiliar environments.
Military schools here opened almost a decade ago in a split with Guam’s public schools over concerns about student safety and learning. Still, the military continued to look to many of Guam’s teachers to fill classrooms.
The arrangement was mutually beneficial, said educators and others: The military saved money by avoiding moving people to the island, and local teachers joined a school district with starting salaries 40 percent higher than at Guam’s public schools. As of this year, about 90 percent of the school’s 250 teachers are from Guam, Diekmann said.
The new hiring policy at the military schools — where the influx of Marine families could almost double the current 2,500 enrollment — will change that.
Now the overall federal military school system, rather than the local Guam district, will pay relocation costs, Diekmann said. It means the superintendent can consider a candidate from a high school on a U.S. military base in Germany, a recent teaching graduate in New York or a public school teacher in Guam for the same position without worrying that one candidate may come with a higher-priced relocation cost than another.
“As we grow, I don’t have to worry about the cost of recruiting teachers,” he said.
It also will give the military a more diverse group of candidates to consider, Diekmann added.
This year, numbers of white students and multi-race students at the island’s four military schools were almost the same, 32 percent and 29 percent respectively, according to data supplied by the school district. Asian/Pacific Islanders represented 19 percent of the enrollment; Hispanics, 10 percent; and blacks, 8 percent.
Among the current teaching staff, 68 percent are white, 23 percent Asian and 4 percent native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. Diekmann noted that most of the local Chamorro people who are native to Guam are listed in the Asian category in the teacher data.
Matt Rector, head of the union representing many of Guam’s public workers, including the 1,800 public school teachers, said he felt the new policy would draw further distinctions between the richer military school system and the public schools, which spent much of June in the local newspaper’s headlines as they struggled to pay their bills.
“To me, this sounds like discrimination,” he said Tuesday, adding that the new policy may make people in Guam feel more isolated from the military. “This action will really drive that feeling home.”
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Okinawa local governments oppose sending missiles to Kadena
By David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida
Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, July 1, 2006
KADENA TOWN, Okinawa — Alarmed by reports that Patriot interceptor missiles may be deployed to Kadena Air Base, the three municipalities hosting the base issued a protest Wednesday.
“That the government proceeds with a plan to place Patriots (on Kadena Air Base) without any consultation with the local communities definitely forces local communities to accept the growth of the air base’s operations, which is absolutely unacceptable,” read a statement issued by a council formed by the mayors and council chairmen of Okinawa City and the towns of Kadena and Chatan.
In a broad agreement signed May 1 to realign U.S. troops, the United States and Japan announced that Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles would be deployed on U.S. bases in Japan, “becoming operational at the earliest possible time.”
Last week, amid reports North Korea was preparing to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile, a Japanese newspaper, quoting anonymous Japanese government officials, reported that the United States would deploy the missiles to either Kadena Air Base or the adjacent Kadena Ammunition Storage Area by the end of the year, along with 500 to 600 additional troops.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the PAC-3 site locations haven’t been decided.
A spokesman for the 18th Wing on Kadena Air Base declined to comment Thursday on the missiles’ placement and the protest resolution.
Patriot missiles are designed to intercept ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and enemy aircraft.
© 2006 Stars and Stripes.
All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Sleepy Hollow No More
by Airman Orville F. Desjarlais Jr. April 04, 2006
It's been labeled the Sleepy Hollow of the Pacific -- but no more.
The eyes of U.S. military leaders are again focusing on Guam to provide peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The strategic importance of Andersen is rejuvenating,” said Col. Michael Boera, the 36th Expeditionary Air Wing commander. “No longer is Andersen the Sleepy Hollow it's been known as after World War II and Vietnam.”
In 1972, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, was the site of one of the most massive buildups of airpower in history. More than 15,000 people and 154 B-52 Stratofortress bombers lined all available flightline space.
The Air Force is again building up the base.
Growth at Andersen may include continued bomber and fighter rotations with the potential for beddown of permanent aircraft. Plans for nearby Northwest Field include an expeditionary combat support training area, while the north ramp may include facilities for fighters like the new F-22A Raptor. The south ramp will see the addition of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle mission.
“Growth on Guam is inevitable,” Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Paul Hester said. “It requires a lot of planning, and I have the utmost faith that the commander and senior leadership here are hard at work trying to determine the best way ahead.”
The Air Force wants Andersen to host squadrons of bombers, air refueling tankers and fighter/attack aircraft on a regular basis with the capability to ramp up if there is a contingency in the Pacific.
That will come with an increase in the current population of 3,700 permanently-assigned Airmen and Department of Defense civilian employees. The increase means the need for more base housing and a robust infrastructure.
The Air Force is expanding the mission here because Guam is a strategic location that allows aircraft to be over “enemy” territory within a few hours versus many hours or days.
It is also valuable because as a U.S. territory, over-flight or landing rights are not required. During times of political uncertainty, the U.S. military always has permission to go to, and operate from, Andersen.
Andersen is at the tip of the “strategic triangle,” which includes bases in Alaska and Hawaii. Combined, they are responsible for securing this corner of the world, command officials said.
“Because of the sheer volume of construction, we have to phase the project,” said Lt. Col. Marvin Smith, the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.
Planned construction projects include new hangars, a medical and dental clinic, a military working dog facility, water tanks, and a Global Hawk maintenance complex. Down the road, the wing hopes to add a new bank, dining facility, maintenance facilities, dorms and base housing.
Planners look to divide the base into distinct land use areas. One will be an industrial area near the air terminal and hangars; the other side will be an area containing a new base exchange, theater and mall, and in time, hopefully a new commissary.
For civil engineers, the chance to re-build a base comes once in a lifetime.
“This is a great opportunity for us -- to be able to plan for the future -- it's really unheard of,” said Capt. Jake Salmond, who works in base development. “It's really exciting. When we come back years from now, we can see what it ultimately will look like.”
Expansion plans have civil engineers drawing up blueprints for construction projects for next year, the next five years, even the next decade.
“We're planning for the future so that 50 years from now people will be glad we designed everything right the first time,” Colonel Smith said.
PLEASE SIGN THE PEACE AND JUSTICE PETITION FOR GUAM
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Updated: 3:28 p.m. PT June 19, 2006
BEIJING — As North Korea threatened to launch a long-range ballistic missile, the United States on Monday began its largest military exercise in the Pacific in more than a decade.
The five-day event off the U.S.-owned island of Guam is huge, involving 30 ships — including three aircraft carriers — 22,000 troops and 280 aircraft.
Most significant, though, is the fact that a Chinese delegation will be visiting the U.S. military bases and be onboard U.S. warships for the first time during such exercises.
The invitation to witness the war games, called Valiant Shield, is an attempt to repair military relations that were severely strained after a 2001 incident in which a U.S. Navy spy plane was forced to land in southern China after colliding with a Chinese fighter sent up to intercept it. The capture of the American crew led to a tense standoff that was only eased after 11 days when the U.S. personnel were released and America apologized for the death of the Chinese pilot.
The invitation comes amid ongoing suspicion over China's growing military capability, with the U.S. continually calling on China to explain its large spike in military spending.
Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, says the invitation also comes with expectations that China will reciprocate and allow U.S. officers to view future Chinese military exercises.
One particular worry, according to the Department of Defense, is Beijing's cyber-warfare capabilities, which are detailed in the department's annual report to Congress, "Military Power of the People's Republic of China," released last month.
"The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and networks," the report states.
James Mulvenon, a specialist on the Chinese military at the National Defense University in Washington, says China has been strengthening its ability to attack enemy computer systems as part of preparations for potential U.S. involvement in any future clash with Taiwan.
"In the event of a military conflict between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan, the PRC believes that disrupting U.S. computer systems and networks could potentially delay U.S. intervention, and the PLA could then cause pain sufficient enough to force Taipei to surrender before the U.S. has a chance to arrive," Mulvenon said.
Meanwhile, Professor Chu Shulong of China's Tsinghua University stressed that his country's concerns over Taiwan are what are motivating China's military development, as opposed to any possible aggression toward the U.S. Taiwan and China are engaged in a complicated war of words in which each claims to represent the true Chinese government.
"China is a developing country in which as it develops, it will strengthen its military for only defensive purposes — mostly to prevent Taiwan from declaring independence, not to target the United States," added Chu, sometimes a harsh critic of Beijing's military policy.
Dr. Jin Canrong, a professor at Renmin University of China, says Beijing's foremost concern is economic development and that conflict with the U.S. "will only hinder China's development in the long run."
Long-term threat to U.S.?
The U.S., though, argues that the lack of transparency in China's robust military build-up poses a credible long-term threat to the U.S.
Last month's Pentagon's report said China's military budget for 2006 is likely much more than the $35 billion it claims. The Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that China's military spending will amount to between $70 billion and $105 billion in 2006.
Derek Levine is a researcher in the NBC News Beijing Bureau.
Monday, June 26, 2006
LANDOWNERS' PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
Okinawa airfield returned after 61 years
By TAKUYA OKAMOTO
YOMITAN, Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) A large part of the U.S. military's Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield in the heart of the village of Yomitan -- the site of a 1945 landing by U.S. forces that cost some 4,000 villagers their lives -- will be returned to local control next month.
The transfer comes after a long struggle by local residents to regain what they consider to be rightfully theirs.
Former Yomitan Mayor Tokushin Yamauchi, 71, still remembers his father telling him in March 1945: "At this rate, our whole family will be destroyed. Let's split up to survive."
The 11 members of his family divided into two groups, and Yamauchi, who was 10 at the time, evacuated to the northern part of the main island of Okinawa with his mother and brothers.
U.S. troops landed on April 1, and one-fifth of the village's residents died amid the fighting and mass suicides. Soon after the war's end, Yamauchi was moved to an evacuee site run by the U.S. military.
The disaster his village suffered in the closing days of the war shaped his life, leading him to lock horns with the both U.S. military and the central government as head of the village.
More than 200,000 lives were lost on both sides during the Battle of Okinawa, including roughly one-fourth of the island's estimated population of 450,000 at that time. Friday marked the 61st anniversary of the end of organized resistance.
But even after the war, the area has remained an important military site and the price paid by local residents has been high. In the 1950s, the U.S. military took over a former Imperial Japanese Army airfield and used it to train paratroops for some 40 years.
In 1965, a fifth-grade elementary school girl was crushed to death when a trailer literally fell from the sky during a training exercise.
Okinawa was returned to Japanese rule in 1972, but the villagers have still had to live next door to danger.
Eiyu Tamaki, 68, was among people who set up a group to address problems posed by the airfield at the time of the reversion. Their ultimate goal was the return of their ancestral land.
That struggle would last more than 30 years.
In 1976, the group brought together all the former owners of the land occupied by the U.S. military site and formed an association to press their claims, but in July that same year, the U.S. military began building a communications antenna complex for antisubmarine aircraft based at the airfield.
Yamauchi, who had by then become mayor of Yomitan, staged a 40-day sit-in with Tamaki and others. During a protest over the construction, an old man who experienced the fighting in Okinawa sprawled out at the bottom of a 2-meter-deep hole where a steel tower was to be built, shouting, "Pour the concrete over me!"
In 1977, Yamauchi sent a letter to then President Jimmy Carter, urging him to stop construction of the complex, and held a news conference to make his case to the nation.
Eventually, the U.S. abandoned the project. "I was scolded by the central government, which said, 'Diplomacy is a matter to be dealt exclusively by the central government and it is outrageous for a village mayor to make a direct appeal to the president,' but I fought back, saying, 'Call it local government diplomacy.' "
"If the antenna had been built, the airfield would never have been returned," Tamaki said.
The 191-hectare Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield is property of the U.S. Marine Corps. It was used as an air base until the end of the Korean War in 1953 and subsequently as a parachute training site. Under a bilateral agreement, three-fourths of the airfield will be returned to Japanese control at the end of July.
A red-brick structure stands at the northern edge of the airfield, which has a 2,000 meter runway and a 1,500 meter parallel apron.
The structure is the Yomitan village office, whose construction Yamauchi convinced the U.S. to allow. Built in 1997, it is the first Japanese government building to be located inside a U.S. base.
The base's predecessor was the Okinawa Kita Airfield, built by the Imperial army near the end of the war. More than 600 landowners were removed from the site after being told by a Japanese officer, "When the war is over, we will return the land." Anyone who refused would have been considered unpatriotic.
Tamaki, who once served as a representative of former landowners set up in 1970 to campaign for the return of their land, said, "There were people who suffered emotionally, with no place to live."
The Japanese airfield was targeted by U.S. warships immediately before the troop landing. The Japanese troops abandoned the airfield and retreated, leaving the villagers behind to fend for themselves.
As for expropriating the villagers' land before and during the war, the central government maintains the property was purchased. It considered its return to the ex-landowners to be legally problematic.
While Yamauchi was mayor of Yomitan, he repeatedly asked the central government to resolve the problem and succeeded in getting approval for the airfield's return.
In Okinawa, former bases have mostly been redeveloped as commercial sites, but Tsutomu Shimabukuro, 66, representative of the landowners' society, and other members want the land occupied by the airfield to become farmland. "It can be a base for (crop) production and employment," he said.
Once the handover is complete, the site will be leased out by former landowners to an agricultural corporation owned by the lessees.
"There is no other example anywhere in the country where landowners have been able to recover land that was owned by the state and used by the U.S. military," Shimabukuro claimed.
The Japan Times: Saturday, June 24, 2006
(C) All rights reserved
Sunday, June 25, 2006
'Massive armada' taking part in carrier exercise near Guam
By Allison Batdorff,
Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, June 21, 2006
ABOARD THE USS RONALD REAGAN, at sea near Guam — Rear Adm. Michael Miller beheld a “massive armada” when the U.S. forces involved in Valiant Shield got together for a photo exercise Sunday, he said.
Three aircraft carrier groups — carrying a combined 20,000 personnel, 28 ships and 290 aircraft — took part, making Valiant Shield the largest carrier exercise since the Vietnam conflict, Miller said Monday, aboard his Strike Group Seven Commander flagship, the USS Ronald Reagan.
The exercise’s size, Miller said, is a function of all of the carrier groups being in the vicinity at the right time. He said mustering the massive Valiant Shield forces — and expanding the former JASEX exercise from two to three carriers — is not being done to show U.S. military might in the Pacific.
Rather, he said, the Navy is reaching out to the region through military “transparency.” For instance, China — called a potential threat in a recent Pentagon report — was invited to attend; on Sunday, Chinese representatives came aboard the Ronald Reagan.
“They wanted to come out here because they are interested in the same things we are — the peace and stability of this region,” Miller said.
“We had some forthright discussion. These are small steps but they are important to building bridges between our two countries.”
The Chinese were “interested in the carrier from the bottom up,” said Ronald Reagan commanding officer Capt. Terry B. Kraft.
“We showed them everything,” Kraft said.
Military representatives from Australia, Singapore, South Korea, India, the Philippines and other nations were aboard carriers Kitty Hawk and the Abraham Lincoln, he said.
Valiant Shield’s main thrust is improving communication among the different branches involved — the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and Army.
The forces are working together on maritime interdiction, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance, command and control.
The inaugural five-day exercise is to run through Friday; Valiant Shield is to become a biannual event.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Unpingco seeks military insight into North Korea situation
by Sonya Artero, http://www.kuam.com, June 23, 2006
U.S. officials are now reporting that current satellite images reveal booster rockets being loaded onto a launch pad and fuel tanks being fitted to a North Korean missile launch site. Whether the launch is imminent, the United States is joining Japan in a sharp response should the test be given the go-ahead. As to how both the Navy and Air Force installations on Guam are preparing, local military officials would not comment because of its sensitive nature.
The Navy would only refer KUAM News to a telephone number to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a number no one answered. To help us determine how Guam could better prepare, should a missile be shot down in the air over or near Guam, Senator Tony Unpingco, whose purview includes military affairs, offered speculation. In his deep concern, Senator Unpingco shot out an emergency letter to commander of Naval Forces Marianas Rear Admiral Charles Leidig, pleading that he reveal what measures the military is taking to protect the island and its people.
What's more Unpingco also requests the Navy reveal what precautions, if any islanders should take.
In the meantime officials from Washington are warning Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, against launching their missile. However, there has been no response. The missile test is expected to involve a Taepodong-2 missile, with an estimated range that can reach parts of Alaska as well as Asia and Russia. Although North Korea lacks an operational missile that can hit the Continental United States, a recent report noted that after Korea fired a similar missile over Japan last year, that missile fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking at the annual European Summit in Australia, President George W. Bush expressed his concern, saying, "It makes people nervous when non-transparent regimes who have announced they have nuclear warheads start firing missiles."
In the meantime, about 1,000 people, including army veterans and activists, have staged a rally in Seoul, condemning the missile threat.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Marbo Property May be Contaminated
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan/Variety News Staff
from The Marianas Variety, http://www.mvariety.com
Soldiers stationed on Guam who handled Agent Orange in the late 1960s have become ill and symptoms of dioxin poisoning became apparent in the general population of the island, according to the Dow Chemical Investor Risk Report.
Ruben Van Sanderson, a retired Navy sailor stationed on Guam in the 1960s, told Variety that the Marbo area in Yigo — where the government is planning to build a new high school — was among the locations where Agent Orange was stored.
The new information surfaced as the Guam Legislature prepares for the introduction of a resolution to ask Congress to include the island in the investigation into the chemical or biological warfare testing projects secretly conducted by the Department of Defense in various locations from 1954 to 1973.
The investigation seeks to declassify more information about Project 112 and the Shipboard Hazard and Defense or Project SHAD, which involved chemical weapon test projects that made use of biological or chemical agents, simulants, tracers, decontaminants, pharmaceuticals or herbicides.
According to the Dow Chemical Risk Report, concerns about Agent Orange — a herbicide used in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 — affected not only U.S. Vietnam war veterans but “has become an issue for military personnel stationed outside of combat zones and for U.S. civilians as well.”
Van Sanderson, who was stationed on Cocos Island for a Department of Defense experiment in March 1966, said Agent Orange “was used, stored and quite possibly disposed of on Guam.”
“The Agent Orange is in the Navy wells. The Air Force either didn’t test for it, or is withholding the information. But Agent Orange was or is in the Marbo complex, albeit in small amounts,” Sanderson said in an e-mail to Variety.
The Dow Chemical Risk Report, prepared by the Innovest Strategic Value Advisors and released in April 2004, is being used by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Office to further its cause for U.S. veterans.
The report stated that dioxin contamination that resulted from Agent Orange handling has been measured at up to 1,900 ppm in some areas of Andersen Air Force Base.
“Given that safe levels of TCDD (dioxin) have been placed at below 1 ppb by the (Environmental Protection Agency) and even lower by many state regulatory agencies (toxic effects have been measured at parts per trillion), this implies an extraordinary level of contamination,” the report stated.
“Dioxin has been shown in laboratory animals to have multigenerational impacts, not just on the offspring of exposed animals, but on the next generation as well,” the report added. Van Sanderson, who was sent to Cocos Island, said Guam was used a staging area for weapons testing after World War II.
“The lagoon was dead then. I learned through research that Cocos and Apra were used in this manner. Tests done on the base that was on Cocos Island, Naval Station Guam Cocos Island, left high amounts of Sr 89 and 90 at over 4,000ppm,” Sanderson told Variety.
Sanderson said those past military activities could explain the Coast Guard’s recent discovery of the high amounts of PCBs in Cocos Island.
“These contaminants and others would be expected with all the naval activity after World War II. Guam was a staging area for weapons testing after World War II,” Sanderson said.
He recalled that by law Guam couldn’t ship its toxic waste off-island until the late 90’s. The chemical disposal had to be done on island.
“Andersen was a burning pond. Before the Clean Water and Air Act, GEPA and the military did things very differently with contaminants such as waste oils, pesticides, contaminated fuels and so forth,” Sanderson said.
He said “everything was dumped or burned before 1978 and the practice even continued for many years after.”
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Andersen prepares for long-term role in region
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News email@example.com
Andersen Air Force Base roared into action yesterday as the massive exercise Valiant Shield unfolded, testing the base's capability to become a bigger player in helping to keep the nation secure.
Dozens of bombers, fighter jets, tankers and other planes visiting from other U.S. military bases took turns executing air maneuvers using the base for takeoffs and landings yesterday.
And when the exercise ends tomorrow, Andersen is not expected to switch into sleep mode. In a shift from its role as a stopover for transient deployments, Andersen is flexing to be the longer-term home for more military air power and personnel.
Col. Michael Boera, Andersen's commander, described the change as something "along the lines of more permanency."
"We're no longer the 'Sleepy Hollow' base of yesteryear," Boera said.
Besides the previously confirmed plan to make Andersen a hub for Global Hawk reconnaissance planes and an air tanker squadron, the base also will become home to about 150 members of an Air Force engineering squadron called the Red Horse.
The Red Horse squadron at Osan Air Base in South Korea will make Guam home, Boera said. Already, about 30 Red Horse squadron personnel are at Andersen, he added. The timetable for the entire squadron's move was not specified.
Red Horse squadrons such as the one that's moving to Guam are like responders to 911 calls for operations such as building airstrips, building emergency roads for military operations and helping after landslides, tsunamis and other disasters.
In wartime, Red Horse provides aircraft-launch and recovery capabilities wherever the Air Force needs them, according to the Air Force Web site, www.af.mil.
Andersen's expected buildup could mean $2 billion to $4 billion in construction activities on Guam, according to Pacific Daily News files.
The Air Force buildup on Guam is expected to complement the expected arrival of about 18,000 members of the U.S. Marines and their families who are relocating from Okinawa.
The Okinawa move alone has been reported, according to a previous military wire service report, to result in much as $15 billion in military spending on Guam over 15 years, at the rate of almost $1 billion a year beginning in about two years.
The Air Force buildup, combined with the Marines' relocation to Guam and other aspects of increased military presence, could mean an additional population of 20,000 to 30,000 on Guam, Boera said.
That could mean an increase of up to 20 percent in Guam's population, which the Department of the Interior said was at 162,000 based on a 2005 Census estimate last year.
The anticipated military buildup on Guam is being discussed in the backdrop of reported potential military threats from China and North Korea.
Guam's location, which significantly cuts U.S. military planes' travel time to potential Asia-Pacific hotspots, has become the key selling point for those who support military buildup on Guam.
Taking advantage of Guam's "cherry location," said Lt. Gen. David Deptula, commander of the Gen. George C. Kenney Warfighting Headquarters in Hawaii, allows U.S. military forces to move in the Pacific "in a matter of hours, as opposed to days, or weeks." Deptula spoke from Hawaii yesterday via live video to a small group of national, regional and local media who gathered at a videoconference room at Andersen.
The ongoing military exercise, which also involves three aircraft carriers, 28 naval ships and about 20,000 service members simulating war scenarios in waters off Guam, is happening as the potential looms for North Korea to test-fire a missile with a reported range reaching the West Coast.
Military officials yesterday declined to talk about the North Korean situation.
In general, Deptula said, the U.S. military has a variety of forces that allows response to "any kind of aggression."
But while many Guam residents support increased U.S. military presence, a group of indigenous residents issued a statement calling for a suspension of American military buildup here.
Increased military presence will make Guam a target of potential adversaries of the United States, according to the I Nasion Chamoru and Guahan Indigenous Collective statement.
Originally published June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
"Acceptance of the view that the US military is a provider and essential to thelocal economy often leads to acceptance and, even, support of increased militarybuild-up on Guam. However, accepting US policy of increased militarization putsGuam at a greater risk of being targeted by potential adversaries of the US. How does a community come to terms with this dual and conflicting reality? Howcan we make decisions that can ensure our survival not only in our daily livesbut, also, in the long term? This blog is dedicated to the Guam community toair their concerns arising from the Peace and Justice Petition in the hopes ofresolving issues and empowering the community and to the local and globalcommunities in order to exchange ideas and information in the hopes ofdeveloping and strengthening international solidarity."
To sign the petition for Peace and Justice for Guam and the Pacific head to this website
To download a paper copy and get signatures clink on this link
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
To download a paper copy and get signatures clink on this link
by Guam Senator Jesse Anderson Lujan
from the Marianas Variety
"Okinawa move requires strong leadership, not meek stewardship"
In the past few weeks discussions concerning the Okinawa based Marines move to Guam has heated up as the fact of the move and its speed has become a foregone conclusion. Some of the highlights have been a visit by Mr. Richard Lawless, Undersecretary for Defense. There have also been visits by Japanese legislators interested in discussions with the Governor concerning the move. Then, we had the Governor’s announcement that, according to his master plan, Guam needs only 945 million dollars for all the required infrastructure improvements to make this move not only feasible but beneficial to the whole community.
In the face of all this activity one clear pattern has emerged. The Camacho administration has shown a singular lack of leadership in presenting and representing our interests in this move. This move will have an unprecedented historical and irreversible impact on our community.
After it is completed, we and our island home will never be the same again. In many ways, with the right leadership, we should be better off. Conversely, with a lack of strong leadership, we could find ourselves in a real mess, with our quality of life completely destroyed and with local military relations in tatters. We therefore need real active leadership here and not meek passive stewardship as we apparently have been witnessing.
Exhibit A supporting my charge is the Camacho’s woefully inadequate infrastructure improvement request of 945 million dollars. This sum is supposed to be adequate for our entire community but is less then just the one billion dollars the military will spend on a single necessary north south road. I could go on forever in describing the deficiencies in Camacho’s request. It seems Camacho’s meek stewardship has brought us the minimum request his administration could devise when he should have strongly led us to an optimal request. This meek and humble approach does neither our community nor the military any good. We need enough infrastructure investments to do the job and do it well. We need a leader with the guts to make a fair demand not a meek steward making a polite request.
Take for instance the request for improvements to our power system. For years we have been told by CCU Chairman Simon Sanchez that it will cost us in excess of 500 million dollars to put our power lines underground. What was the request in the Governor’s so called master plan? – 60 million dollars, about ten percent of the sum previously quoted by Sanchez. Meanwhile, the serial killer power poles continue to disproportionately maim and kill our young people on our roadways. With such a huge increase in our population, estimated at up to 50,000 total additional people, this carnage will only increase to epidemic proportions. Our roads are already overcrowded and these menacing poles must be dealt with throughout the island comprehensively and as quickly as possible and not in a haphazard and piecemeal fashion as GPA has been doing. This is not only a military readiness issue but one of health and safety for our people.
Exhibit B supporting my charge that stewardship is inadequate in the circumstances we are now faced with, is the Governor’s indecision in meeting Japanese legislators interested in meeting with him to discuss the move. After setting several meetings which were postponed, the Governor eventually insultingly cancelled the meetings outright. This indecision and rebuke of important Japanese legislators has had a huge negative impact on our credibility in Japan – the source of most of our private investment and our tourists, not to mention the cash that will be spent to accomplish the move. The Governor’s meek excuse was that he did not want to interfere in Japanese politics even though we are already indirectly involved in Japanese politics just by being involved in this move. But more likely the Governor was attempting to be unnecessarily meek and polite to our military, deferring to them all access to information and coordination, even though we were not even offered the courtesy of an observer on the Okinawa negotiating team.
Exhibit C is the simple fact that the Camacho administration nor Delegate Madeline Bordallo have made absolutely no effort to settle once and for all our long neglected and much needed war reparations request as part of this move.
The Governor’s hat in hand, eyes bent down looking at his toes approach to the US military, reminds me of the nossirs and yasssirs of a good house slave. The Governor should remember that we are not taking orders from an occupying power, so he need not ask how high he should jump even before he is asked to jump. We are equal Americans and he should assume that our military will treat us and him with respect and he need not degrade himself and us.
Since we have no representation on the Okinawa negotiating team, and we have no elected representatives who have any influence with the US negotiating team, it is incumbent on the Governor to meet with all interested parties to find out the most and best information he can, and then, for the Governor to directly relay that information to his constituents – the residents of Guam. We have seen no such effort from the Governor and find ourselves instead in a practically meaningless meeting with Mr. Lawless who came here not to tell us how the US Government intends to help us adjust to this move but how little they intend to do for us.
While I find it hard to criticize my fellow Republican Governor I find it even harder to allow us to be led down the primrose path essentially leaderless during this huge historical event that will impact us for generations. So Governor, its time for less weak stewardship and more strong leadership. There is not a moment to lose.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Training on Tinian
Monday, June 05, 2006
We are told that we shall be graced with a permanent force of military training personnel and their accoutrements based on Tinian. We will be further blessed to have the U.S. Marines who will soon retreat from Okinawa doing their live training on Tinian because, heheheheh, Guam is not big enough. I'm sure any elementary school student on Tinian could tell you which island is the larger of the two.
Obviously the REAL reason is that they think we "provincials" are too hungry for the funds that will accrue, or too stupid to see the environmental impact and the lifestyle impact that will occur when these chaps show up for their days of fun-in-the-sun blowing stuff up. The truth is the Guamanians won't stand for it, and neither should we.
Here are a few reasons we should think twice before embracing this as some kind of patriotic monetary windfall:
1. In the last election 946 people voted for the mayor on Tinian. How will a Thousand or so additional stateside hawly voters on the rolls skew that election? Not to mention a governor's race that was decided by only 99 votes. (971 Tinian residents voted for CNMI governor). Think about it.
2. Live fire training means lots of lead flying around and a good number of large explosions occurring on a rather small island. Think THWAP THWAP THWAP at 3am as the helicopters bring special ops troops back and forth over once peaceful Tinian for their night operations. On the other hand, fireworks are kind of nice. but every night? KaBOOM! Think about it.
3. Think about the land trying to come back to normalcy from a horrendous war 60 years ago being torn asunder anew by tracked vehicles and ripped by artillery, hand grenades and the like. Are they only going to be using peashooters and driving on the paved roads all the time?
4. PCBs, fuel leaks, heavy metals in the soil and percolating down to the fresh water aquifer. Sure they will clean it up. (Tanapag just got SOME of its 60-year-old fuel leaky fuel tanks removed just last month). The most environmentally despoiled places on the planet are not industrial sites..they are closed military bases. They left it a mess once, they will do it again.
5. Brown Tree Snakes. It is no secret how Guam got overrun with these local life-destroying pests. The military brought them in with their gear. and they will do the same on Tinian. Bet on it. No more Tinian monarch. Most indigenous wildlife will be eradicated. Power outages will become more frequent just as on Guam when the hordes of snakes grill themselves on the power lines.
6. The social impact of large numbers of post adolescent males unleashed on the rural atmosphere of Tinian during their time off is another unwanted side effect. I have already gone on about that in a previous column so I won't belabor it here, but the impact will be very real and very damaging.
7. Assume you are China. You believe you have become strong enough to finally take back Taiwan. You know it will start hostilities.You have long-range nuclear capability (ICBMs). You know your enemy stockpiles war goods and troops on small islands in the Western Pacific. Where do you aim the nukes?
8. There is more but I'm running out of space.Now don't get me wrong. I am not averse to having these Marines, and their USAF and USN counterparts come on up to the CNMI and visit.
They will need some respite from the hustle and bustle of Guam from time to time, and we could use an influx of their cash as visiting tourists from time to time. Let's welcome them with open arms, show them a good time, let them feel a bit of the wonderful local hospitality and let them see the beautiful sites of our Northern Marianas. then let's send them back to Guam where they can pollute that ahem, far more sophisticated island.
Here is an alternative: Let the Marines continue to have live fire training and add their personnel assault training on FDM (Farallon de Medinilla), which they have already decimated with bombs and rockets. Have them fly the troops in via a roundabout flight plan that passes well out of eyesight and earshot of our inhabited Northern Marianas. Let 'em blow the crap out of it. Let them dig foxholes and put on war paint and shuttle around in their hummers. Only a few fishermen (some of them my friends) will notice or care.
It's nice to have a watchdog, but you don't have to sleep with him to get the benefit. He likely has fleas, and at best his table manners are atrocious, not to mention his propensity to lick himself, and others, in unmentionable spots. They have been known to reproduce incestuously. ARF ARF.
Quote of the week: When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers. -African proverb
* * *
Bruce A. Bateman writes Sour Grapes when the moon is full and the mood strikes. Stay tuned for each exciting episode
The Saipan Tribune
Sunday, June 18, 2006
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N.Korea to boost its 'military deterrent'
By BURT HERMAN,
Associated Press Writer
North Korea vowed Sunday to increase its "military deterrent" to cope with what it called U.S. attempts to provoke war, amid signs the country was preparing to test a long-range missile that could reach the continental United States.
Meanwhile, Japan said it would file a "fierce" protest and seek an immediate U.N. Security Council meeting if the North test-fires what is believed to be a Taepodong-2 missile.
There was no mention of a missile in a report from North Korea's official media on a national meeting marking the anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il starting work in the country's communist party.
North Korea has not fired a long-range missile since August 1998, when it sent a rocket flying over parts of Japanese territory in a launch that shocked the region. Since 1999, Pyongyang has abided by a self-imposed moratorium on long-range tests.
But signs of a launch have grown in recent days, with reports saying a missile has been assembled at a launch pad on the North's eastern coast and may have been fueled for launch.
"There are signs" of a missile launch, Jung Tae-ho, a spokesman at the South Korean president's office, told The Associated Press, without elaborating. He said security officials were "closely watching the situation."
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government official, reported that the weather around the North Korean launch site was bad, indicating the North may not fire its missile Sunday.
Satellite weather images posted on the Web site of the South's Korea Meteorological Administration showed clouds around the launch site in northeastern North Korea as of early evening.
A missile launch "depends a lot on weather conditions," a South Korean intelligence official told The Associated Press, but he didn't comment on weather conditions in the area.
With such weather, if there was no particular movement by 8 p.m. (1100 GMT) "we can say a missile won't be launched today," Yonhap quoted a Foreign Ministry official it did not identify as saying.
A nighttime launch is considered unlikely.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said his country would not immediately resort to arms if North Korea fires a missile but would take the issue to the United Nations.
"We will naturally file a stern protest and it will be fierce," Aso said on TV Asahi, adding that the North would gain nothing from the test.
Aso also reportedly said it would be "inevitable" that the Security Council would consider imposing sanctions on Pyongyang if it goes ahead with the missile launch.
Speaking on Fuji TV, Aso said Tokyo could impose sanctions on the North in the event a missile launch because that would violate Pyongyang's commitment to impose a moratorium on such tests.
At the North Korean national meeting Sunday, officials talked about increasing the North's "military deterrent" — a phrase commonly used by the country to refer to its nuclear program, which Pyongyang contends it needs for a defense to a possible U.S. attack. Washington denies any intention to invade.
"The (North) Korean army and people will do their best to increase the military deterrent with sharp vigilance to cope with the moves of the U.S., which is hell-bent on provocations for war of aggression on the DPRK, resorting to its anti-DPRK policy, and its followers Japan and other bellicose forces," said Choe Thae Bok, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
DPRK refers to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
"If the enemies ignite a war eventually, the Korean army and people will mercilessly wipe out the aggressors and give vent to the deep-rooted grudge of the nation," Choe said.
The United States and Japan have confirmed that the assembly of what is believed to be a Taepodong-2 missile has been completed with two stages at the launch site, based on photos from satellites, Japan's largest daily, the Yomiuri newspaper, reported Sunday.
The Taepodong-2 missile is believed to be the North's most advanced model with the capability to reach the United States with a light payload.
The paper also said it appeared North Korea has begun filling the missile with fuel, citing unidentified U.S. government officials who conveyed information Saturday to the Japanese government through unofficial channels.
Yonhap, citing diplomatic sources in Washington, also reported there was a possibility the missile already may have been fueled, with satellite photos showing tens of fuel tanks at the launch site.
The missile concerns come amid an extended impasse at the six-nation talks on the North's nuclear weapons program. The talks — involving the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia — were last held in November.
The North has claimed it has a nuclear weapon, but it is not believed to have a design that would be small and light enough to place on top of a missile.
Associated Press reporters Bo-mi Lim and Kwang-tae Kim in Seoul and Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
The Army in the Pacific
Soldiers Magazine December 06, 2005
With ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan continuing to capture headlines throughout the nation and around the world, the Army's vital mission in the Pacific Rim area has received little attention of late.
A vast region -- it covers 16 time zones, encompasses more than 50 percent of the world's surface and is home to 60 percent of the world's population -- the Pacific Rim has long been of strategic importance to the United States. Various conflicts continue to simmer in the region, which has also seen terrorist acts committed by Al Qaeda and its allies.
In this exclusive interview, U.S. Army, Pacific, commander LTG John M. Brown III talks about USARPAC's missions and capabilities, both within its own area of operations and around the world.
Q: What do you feel is USARPAC's most important mission?
Brown: As with every other command in the Army today, USARPAC's primary mission is to ensure that we provide well-trained, well-equipped and competently led forces to fight the global war on terrorism. USARPAC undertakes this primary mission in two ways.
First, we send individual Soldiers and entire units through U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Central Command for use as part of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Second, we provide those same types of forces to U.S PACOM for operations in this theater. Those operations can be part of PACOM's theater security and cooperation program; engagement with the 43 other nations that operate in the Asia-Pacific region; or peacekeeping or counter-terrorism operations such as those in the Philippines.
But USARPAC also has a second mission that is growing in importance every day, and one which certainly complements our primary mission. That second mission is to execute our part of the Army campaign plan for transformation.
USARPAC has been designated as the third of the Army's five upper tier operational Units of Employment, and almost every one of our brigades and divisions, and all of our major headquarters, will be undergoing transformation over the next two years to configure them into the Army's new modular and expeditionary structure. That new structure will certainly better enable USARPAC to provide, and command and control, forces in the war on terrorism or any other military operation.
Q: How then do you feel about USARPAC's readiness to carry out those missions?
Brown: I'm very confident that we are sending the very best-trained, best-equipped and superbly led units into OIF and OEF. I base that assessment on the performance of the thousands of Pacific-based Soldiers who have participated in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two years.
At the same time, we remain fully engaged within our own theater. While 24,000 Pacific-based Soldiers participated in OIF and OEF last year, we actually increased the number of engagements -- exercises, combined training or real-world operations here in the Pacific. That wasn't an easy thing to do at a time when we were sending so many Soldiers outside our own theater.
But despite the challenge of increasing the number of our in-theater engagements, it was necessary because there is a war against terrorism going on here in the Pacific. If we don't look after this theater, we may have to pay a heavier price in the future.
Q: What do you feel is USARPAC's greatest strength?
Brown: While I believe we have many strengths -- the caliber of our Soldiers and the thoroughness of our training, for example -- I believe that perhaps our greatest strengths are, first, our ability to master the vast distances we encounter in this theater of operations and, second, our ability to maintain close working relationships with other nations in the region.
People tend to forget that the Pacific is the U.S. military's geographically largest theater, and that the distances here are staggering. Yet we have not allowed the tyranny of distance to prevent us from conducting the same sorts of operations that have been so successful in other, smaller theaters.
As part of the U.S. Pacific Command team -- along with the Navy, Marines and Air Force -- we undertake the multinational exercises that are such a vital part of our ability to maintain the interoperability that is essential to successful coalition operations.
I think the international response to the recent tsunamis in South Asia is an excellent example of why it is so vital for USARPAC and PACOM to do whatever is necessary to maintain that interoperability with other nations in the region. Because we have trained and interacted with our counterparts in such nations as India, Thailand and Australia, we in Pacific Command were able to begin providing vital assistance within a matter of hours.
Q: While the nation has heard much about the fine work done by the Navy, Marines and Air Force in the wake of the tsunamis, we have perhaps not heard as much about the Army's role in the relief effort. What role did USARPAC play?
Brown: We were probably the minor partner in the relief effort, in that the nature of the damage -- for example, the destruction of road networks -- dictated that most of the relief effort went in by sea and by strategic airlift. Our sister services did an excellent job, and they deserve a huge vote of thanks.
Having said that, USARPAC was able to provide considerable logistics support. We sent specialist units to the base camps in Thailand and Sri Lanka, to help push supplies and equipment forward to where they were needed. And because we have a large number of forensics specialists, we were able to make a huge contribution to the very difficult task of identifying human remains.
We also provided such important equipment as water-purification units. In addition, we released large amounts of our contingency supplies -- such as construction materials and tents -- for use in the devastated areas, and we provided civil-affairs teams.
In addition, Soldiers from USARPAC's 58th Signal Battalion provided around-the-clock communications support for Combined Forces-536. The battalion was instrumental in providing the network-bridging strategy that allowed U.S. forces deployed throughout the region access to the Department of Defense's global information grid, which provided secure and non-secure data networks, telephones and video teleconferences. The battalion continued its support around the clock throughout the duration of the operation.
In short, I think USARPAC made a meaningful contribution to the tsunami-relief effort, though I would emphasize that the bulk of our nation's contribution to that effort was made by Sailors, Marines and Airmen.
Q: How do you feel about the Job USARPAC Soldiers are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Brown: They are performing superbly in what is obviously a very complex and challenging type of warfare. They are well prepared to succeed, and when they come back to home station their confidence in themselves and their acknowledgement of the mission's importance is reflected in their re-enlistment rates. They're staying in the Army in record numbers, and I think that speaks volumes about their dedication to the mission and to the nation.
Q: What do you see in USARPAC's future?
Brown: I think our future will be a very dynamic one.
As I mentioned earlier, today's USARPAC is a force provider that sends well-trained, well-equipped and competently led forces wherever they're needed. But we send them under the command and control of other headquarters. Over the next 18 to 24 months things will change; we'll keep all our existing missions and responsibilities, but we will also become a war-fighting headquarters. We will restructure ourselves to be able to provide forces and command and control them across the full spectrum of military operations.
That's a very exciting opportunity, but there are other things happening as well. In Alaska, for example, we just completed the fielding of the Army's third Stryker brigade combat team, and we've stood up the Army's newest airborne brigade combat team. Here in Hawaii we're going to field the Army's fifth Stryker BCT, and the 25th Infantry Division headquarters will convert to the new UEX structure.
So, over the next two years the nature and capability of the Army in this vital theater will change tremendously. It is truly an exciting time for U.S. Army, Pacific.
Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.
Copyright 2006 Soldiers Magazine.
All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.
Friday, June 16, 2006
By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 21, 2006
DAECHURI, South Korea -- Here in the marshy heartland of the Korean Peninsula, the rabble-rousing rice farmers of this tiny village are engaged in their own little war against the U.S. military.
With American forces in the midst of their largest regional realignment in decades, the farmlands of Daechuri have been condemned to make room for the expansion of a nearby U.S. base. While about half the residents have quietly accepted a lucrative cash-for-land deal being offered by the South Korean government, a core group of about 70 holdouts have rebuffed all efforts to buy them out.
Their refusals to make way for the base -- or give in to what many of the farmers are calling "American bullying" -- have won them instant hero status among some South Korean labor unions and student groups. Over the past several weeks, protesters have held the largest anti-American demonstrations in South Korea in four years, turning Daechuri into a symbol of their struggle to drive U.S. troops out of the country.
"We are sick of being treated like America's servants!" said Cho Sun Yeh, a fiery 90-year-old rice farmer.
Her first home in the area was bulldozed to make room for a U.S. base during the 1950-53 Korean War. After the uneasy truce that left the peninsula divided into capitalist South and communist North, Cho and her husband built a new house a few hundred yards from the base's barbed wire fences.
It is from this home that Cho and her extended family of 17 are refusing to budge. "I am thankful for what the U.S. did to save us from the communists back then, but that was a long time ago and we have paid them enough thanks," she said. "I gave my land up once already, and I am not about to do it again. It is time for the U.S. to leave us alone."
The last stand at Daechuri underscores the significant hurdles that analysts say could set back by years the Pentagon's broad plan to realign American forces in the Pacific.
State-of-the-art military technologies and shifting geopolitical concerns have convinced the Pentagon that it can do with fewer troops and bases in East Asia's largest host countries, South Korea and Japan. In some respects, that strategy is giving anti-American groups in both nations a dose of what they want. In South Korea, plans call for a 33 percent reduction in the U.S. force, to 25,000 troops, and a consolidation of 104 widely scattered military installations into 10 regional hubs by 2008. In Japan, home to more than 50,000 American troops, 8,000 of the 18,000 Marines now based on Okinawa island will be relocated to the American territory of Guam by 2014.
But even as U.S. troops disappear from some communities, their presence is set to increase in others, where they are hardly being welcomed with open arms. Vocal anti-American activists are seizing the moment, calling for protracted demonstrations, insisting the United States pay a larger portion of the realignment costs and supporting politicians who favor even greater troop and base reductions.
"Both Korea and Japan are facing a similar situation," said Seong Ho Sheen, an international relations professor at Seoul National University. "Anti-U.S. anger and resentment are always there, but now you find these groups seeking to use the realignment to bring those sentiments to the surface in both countries."
Sheen and others say demonstrators' efforts have so far met with limited success. Although the protests in and around Daechuri are South Korea's largest in years, they have yet to generate national momentum and still pale in comparison with the wave of anti-American demonstrations that swept the country in 2002. Then, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets after two teenage girls were run down and killed by a U.S. armored vehicle. The vehicle's two crew members were both acquitted of negligent homicide in a U.S. military court.
Recent opinion polls indicate that most South Koreans and Japanese still do not think it is time for the U.S. military to pack its bags entirely. Yet Asian and U.S. officials concede that the realignment is causing new friction -- particularly at the grass-roots level.
In Japan, the U.S. troop presence has been better tolerated than in most other host countries in Asia or Europe -- in part because the size and role of the country's own forces are limited by Japan's pacifist post-World War II constitution. But opposition has been fierce on a local level, particularly in Okinawa, home to the largest concentration of U.S. troops in the country.
That has been due in some part to crimes committed by U.S. servicemen stationed there and a sense that the American military operates above Japanese law. But opinion polls have shown that the huge costs Japan will bear as a result of the U.S. realignment are now generating resentment on a national level.
In recent weeks, Washington and Tokyo have reached broad agreement that Japan would shoulder nearly 60 percent -- or $6 billion -- of the cost of moving 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam. But in late April, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard P. Lawless shocked Japan by telling reporters in Washington that Tokyo's ultimate cost for the U.S. troop realignment could reach $26 billion.
"This used to be an Okinawa-only issue," said Teruo Onishi, an activist who helped organize a massive but peaceful demonstration against the U.S. military in Okinawa in March. "But now that the rest of Japan is seeing the huge amount we are being asked to pay, people are wondering whether it's really fair for Japanese tax dollars to fund the U.S. military's strategic objectives."
As part of the realignment in South Korea, the U.S. military will return 66 percent of the land it now occupies, including prime real estate in the heart of Seoul, the capital. Residents near the land vacated so far have expressed satisfaction with the drop in congestion and noise from military vehicles.
Still, officials in Seoul and Washington remain mired in tough negotiations over demands by South Korea's Environmental Ministry that the United States cover the costs of extensive and costly reforestation and cleanup.
U.S. officials in South Korea have declined to comment publicly on the anti-American demonstrations. In a statement, David Oten, a U.S. military spokesman in Seoul, said the United States remained "fully committed to completing consolidation as quickly as possible."
But the situation has tried the patience of some U.S. lawmakers. Last October, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) blasted South Korea for "historical amnesia." In a Senate hearing, Clinton added that South Koreans were losing their "understanding of the importance of our position there and what we have done over so many decades to provide them the freedom that they have enjoyed."
South Korean groups supporting the U.S. military presence have criticized the administration of President Roh Moo Hyun for taking too soft a line on the protesters at Daechuri, which is set to be absorbed by Camp Humphreys, the base that will become the new American command center in South Korea. The Seoul government has condemned violent protesters and made several dozen arrests. But it has also said that in a democracy, all voices, including anti-American ones, must be heard.
The holdouts have refused all incentives to leave -- including buyouts of about $170,000 per acre. Authorities say they plan to evict the farmers by force if they do not leave by October.
Farmer Cho says she will be waiting.
"This is my home," she said. "My memories are here, my life is here. I should not have to give that up for anyone."
Special correspondents Joohee Cho in Seoul and Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo contributed to this report.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
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From the Honolulu Advertiser
June 4, 2006
Carriers ready for war games
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The Navy will make a point of demonstrating its carrier strength in the Pacific this summer.
Three aircraft carriers will head to Guam for military exercises later this month. One will later take part in upcoming Rim of the Pacific war games off Hawai'i, and two carriers will train in the western Pacific in August, the Navy said.
Officials yesterday said the carriers Reagan, Lincoln and Kitty Hawk will participate in the Valiant Shield exercise from about June 19 to 23. The Reagan and Lincoln are expected to make port calls at Pearl Harbor.
The Guam exercise represents the largest gathering of flattops for an exercise in the Pacific in more than a decade, if not longer, officials said.
Cmdr. Mike Brown, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman, said assembling three carriers and their supporting ships, submarines, supporting air wings and other air and land elements "demonstrate the U.S. military's ability to conduct robust joint command and control operations."
Guam is becoming a fast-response hub for the U.S. military in the Pacific, with a renewed bomber presence, three nuclear submarines and the possibility of more, and plans to move 8,000 Marines there from Okinawa, Japan, by 2014.
The Navy also wants to be able to dispatch more carriers on shorter notice as North Korea remains a threat and China builds up its military.
The San Diego-based USS Ronald Reagan and the nearly 6,000 sailors assigned to its strike group recently completed operations in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
The USS Abraham Lincoln, out of Washington state, recently left Sasebo, Japan. The Navy confirmed it will participate in Valiant Shield and Rim of the Pacific, or Rimpac, and the British Broadcasting Corp. reported the carrier also will take part in August training.
The Kitty Hawk is based in Japan.
Brown said Valiant Shield in Guam builds upon the annual Joint Air and Sea Exercises that have been held the past three years. The total force participating involves approximately 22,000 U.S. military personnel, 30 ships and 280 aircraft, he said.
For the war games, The Gen. George C. Kenney Headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base will have command and control of aircraft including B-1 and B-52 bombers, F-15 and F-16 fighters, and surveillance and tanker aircraft.
"The biggest thing that we'll be exercising is joint interoperability and joint control — being able to talk to each other in the air and on the ground," said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Ramey, who is with the Kenney headquarters.
The 2006 Rimpac exercise from June 26 through July 28 in waters off Hawai'i is expected to involve more than 40 ships, six submarines, 160 aircraft and almost 19,000 military personnel.
Forces from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, Japan, South Korea and Britain are expected to participate.
Anti-submarine warfare exercises and sonar use are prevalent during Rimpac, and the Navy plans to monitor more of the ocean around Hawai'i for sonar's possible adverse effects on marine mammals during the biennial exercise.
Responding to scientific evidence that sonar can disrupt, injure or kill whales, dolphins and other sea creatures, the Navy for the first time applied for a federal permit to "harass" marine mammals when it uses mid-frequency sonar in the war games.
A comment period ended May 24, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service has yet to issue a permit, officials said.
The Navy estimates there will be 33,331 incidents of sonar exposure to marine mammals —some animals affected more than once — resulting in behavioral disturbance during the naval exercise.
NOAA Fisheries said the cause of a stranding of up to 200 melon-headed whales off Kaua'i during Rimpac in 2004 may never be unequivocally determined, but sonar use is a "plausible, if not likely, contributing factor."
Reach William Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
by Julian Aguon
May 29, 2006
The Marianas Variety http://www.mvariety.com
PEOPLE of Guam: The transfer of thousands of U.S. Marines and their dependents to our island should give our moral outrage a new lease of life. And although it will have devastating consequences on all levels—social, moral, cultural, political and ecological—it seems as if only money matters. So, let’s start there.
Fact: Of the $10.3billion settled upon by the U.S. and Japan, we have yet to find exactly how much of this is going to be used to improve and upgrade local infrastructure, or in what ways. Will money go directly toward capital improvement projects or will they be spent unwisely on more privatization efforts like those we still see being pushed from the top-down at both the Guam Waterworks Authority and the Port Authority of Guam?
Fact: Military communities are self-contained communities. Their dollars stay mostly on base. Dollars that make it out will go where they always go —to the sex industry (porn shops, massage parlors, etc.) As case studies from various places indicate, one example being Hawai’i, U.S. military buildup does not benefit common people. The big bucks go to big businesses which are privileged over locally owned small businesses. Big, mainland-controlled companies make their money and leave. They receive corporate welfare. For example, they will be given qualifying certificates allowing them 20 years of tax evasion in exchange for participating in Guam’s economic development. Though these come with clauses requiring the training of locals to take over management of these businesses, this doesn’t happen. These companies are not subject to local accountability and do not pay their share of taxes. The locals they hire will not earn a living wage. Instead, we’ll get menial jobs at which we will earn too little to pay taxes and contribute to the general treasury.
Outside contractors brought here for construction projects resulting from the buildup will most likely work solely on base, remain unaccountable to us, and contribute nothing to our treasury. If we paid better attention, we would be making noise about the fact that U.S. Defense officials have already awarded two multi-million dollar contracts to two U.S. mainland-based companies for construction projects here on Guam. TEC Inc. Joint Venture, a company based out of Charlottesville, Virginia , has received a $40 million military contract to do work here, on Saipan and Hawai’i. Epsilon Systems Solutions Inc., a company based out of San Diego, California, was awarded $5.7 million to repair and upgrade naval berthing barges here and elsewhere. We are already seeing how this game works. So, where are our local players? Could local companies have done some of this work? These contracts are supposedly competitive, so where was the request for proposal? I blinked and must have missed it.
In the end, we must ask: Who benefits from this transfer, really? Perhaps the best way to find this answer is to look to the group pushing so hard for it —elite members of our business community, in particular, the local Chamber of Commerce. This group has been pushing the mass privatization of Guam as well. It is they, not the common people, who stand to benefit from this buildup. We must remember that the real engine of our economy is not the Chamber, but the relatively disempowered, locally-owned small business sector, the very sector that will be threatened by this transfer. What we are witnessing is a plan to keep the wealthy rich and the rest of us without. And we should not be surprised. People with almost only profit on the brain often have interests that endanger the true welfare of the wider community.
Our leaders are standing almost blindly behind this transfer, moving fast and against the wind of what small hope has survived in our hearts for some sort of decolonized future. It is more urgent than ever for those of us who know how to act and for those of us who are just plain tired to shake the sleep off.
Too much is at stake. And besides, the numbers just aren’t adding up.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
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From the Marianas Variety
April 27, 2006
STUDY: CHINA TARGETING GUAM BASES
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
Guam is now in the crosshairs of the Chinese military because of the buildup of U.S. military forces in the island, a new study says.
U.S.-based think tank Rand Corp., in a study called “Chinese Responses to U.S. Military Transformation and Implications for the Department of Defense,” indicated that China will launch a first-strike missile attack on U.S. installations on Guam in case war breaks out over Taiwan.
Written by seven Rand China researchers who studied dozens of Chinese military publications, international documents and open-source material, the study said China is stockpiling conventional ballistic and cruise missiles to overwhelm Taiwan while at the same time hitting Guam bases to delay U.S. intervention.
“This approach attacks weak points in the enemy rear, denies the U.S. military the ability to use regional bases, Guam for example, as sanctuaries, changes the dynamics in the early stages of a conflict and provides an effective response to strategic attacks by American conventional forces,” the study said.
Guam is currently being built up by the military precisely to counterbalance China’s growing military presence in the region.
With the recent agreement with Japan, the U.S. will be able to base 8,000 Marines, including possible Marine special forces on Guam, for a quick response in case of a conflict over Taiwan.
The Navy is also beefing up its presence on Guam, planning to deploy cruise missile submarines in addition to its attack submarines already homeported on island, which can be quickly deployed in case of a war with China.
At present, no decision has yet been reached on a proposal to homeport an aircraft carrier group on Guam but the short distance between the island and the Taiwan Straits still makes Guam a strong candidate for homeporting.
Monday, June 12, 2006
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From the Honolulu Advertiser
April 17, 2006
Major exercise set near Guam
By AUDREY McAVOY
PEARL HARBOR - The U.S. military plans to gather three aircraft carriers off Guam this summer for exercises that will mark the first time since the Vietnam War that so many of the ships have operated in the Pacific Ocean together.
Air Force planes and Marines will also participate in the maneuvers scheduled for June.
Adm. Gary Roughead, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, said the exercises will offer the Navy a unique opportunity to have three fighter wings practice together. They would also let the military test how well the aircraft carriers, the Air Force and the Marines share information, he said.
Capt. Matt Brown, a spokes-man for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said the Navy had to go back to records of the Vietnam War to find three aircraft carriers operating together in the Pacific.
Roughead said Guam's central location makes the waters off the U.S. territory the best place for the ships, planes and troops to rendezvous without spending too much time in transit.
The size of the exercises will likely grab the attention of other nations.
Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies in Honolulu, said significant exercises inevitably send political messages even though they are designed primarily to help troops hone their skills.
Cossa said the June maneuvers would demonstrate to Iran and North Korea that, despite the focus on the war in Iraq, the U.S. would have resources at its disposal in the event of a military confrontation with either country over its respective nuclear programs.
Cossa said it was unlikely that the U.S. aims to send China a message with the exercises even though it might be a popular interpretation of U.S. intentions.
"I would think today that the U.S. is certainly more concerned that the Iranians and the North Koreans know that we still have the ability to put together a formidable amount of firepower," Cossa said. "The Chinese already know that. And the Chinese aren't doing anything that would require us to send them that message."
The exercises come just months after the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review said the Navy would heighten its presence in the Pacific to keep up with the growth of trade and transport in the region.
The Navy plans to base most of its nuclear-powered attack submarines in the Pacific by 2010. It also intends to have six — or half — of its aircraft carriers available for operations in the Pacific at any given time.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
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Marines welcomed warily
Boost to economy may strain island infrastructure
By Tammy Anderson
Pacific Daily News
News that as many as 7,000 Marines will be relocated from Japan to Guam in the next few years has island leaders and retailers smiling and some local residents concerned.
Gov. Felix Camacho said he is happy to see the Marine division that helped liberate the island 50 years ago return to Guam. Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and other U.S. officials announced that the headquarters of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force will be moved to Guam.
"We welcome the Marines back home, and their return not only benefits the people of Guam but also our great nation," Camacho said. "My administration has been working tirelessly alongside the congresswoman and the Guam Chamber of Commerce to ensure that the return of the Marines becomes reality." Camacho added that this move "means more than millions in economic activity. It also increases Guam's global strategic value and returns an important part of our history to our shores."
The move is intended to strengthen military cooperation, reduce the number of U.S. Marines on Okinawa and give Tokyo greater responsibility for security in the Pacific.
The decisions were part of an American effort to streamline the U.S. military overseas and create a leaner, more flexible fighting force.
Okinawans have long complained of crime, crowding and noise associated with the American bases. There are 14,460 Marines in Japan, the largest contingent based overseas, and nearly all are in Okinawa.
Barrigada resident Juan M. Unpingco was happy to hear about the announcement made Saturday.
"We give thanks that they are coming to our island not as in wartime like World War II, but in peacetime," the 82-year-old said.
While he was happy about the boost the move may bring to Guam's economy, he also was wary about the possible strain that 7,000 people coming to Guam would put on the infrastructure.
Guam Power Authority spokesman Art Perez said he hopes to meet with military planners soon about the changes in infrastructure the island will need to support such a large movement of people to Guam.
"At this point, we would like to work with the military planners on what their move will be in mission support," he said.
"The military is an important customer for both utilities," Perez said of GPA and the Guam Waterworks Authority.
He added that both utilities already are making improvements.
"We are in the right momentum forward to meet the lion's share of this movement to put more troops on Guam," he said.
Heidi Meyer, owner of the bar Tower of London on Ypao Road, said she thinks the move will mean great things for Guam's economy and her business.
"It is going to improve the business and improve the whole economy of the island," Meyer said.
She has operated the bar since 1991 and said her business could see a direct effect when the military realigns itself on Guam.
"I don't think the impact will be immediate," she added, but she feels the impact will be large with the extra money being pumped into Guam's economy.
Byron Garrido, 43, of Yigo said he is not excited to see the shift of Marines to Guam.
"At first, I thought it would be good, but then think back to the past," he said describing how he has seen fights break out between local residents and military personnel.
Garrido said he hopes military officials will brief all troops who move to Guam about the culture on Guam and how to respect that culture.
"Respect, learn where you are at," he said. "You are not in the states, this is Guam."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Originally published October 31, 2005