Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trust, But Verify

Trust, but verify
By Ben Pangelinan
For Variety
August 28, 2007

You may recall that in 1987, former President Ronald Reagan, citing an old Russian proverb, told Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that the foundation for the new U.S.-Soviet relationship surrounding arms control would be “trust, but verify” (doveryay, no proveryay).

IN ending the cold war between the United States and Russia and the implementation of the agreements to end the war, President Reagan uttered these unforgettable words. The words were used to encapsulate the simple doctrine for the disarmament of the weapons of mass destruction in the arsenal of each country.

This is exactly why it is important that we attend every meeting and briefing that is being conducted with regards to the impending military buildup on Guam. It gives us the opportunity to establish trust between each other and begin to verify the information.

I must say that there is a long road yet to be traveled before I can trust that the process will in fact protect the people as well as the island. To illustrate my point, I attended the earliest of town hall meetings on the plans for military buildup even before I was elected to my current term. In one meeting, the general conducting the meeting stated that there would be no live ammunition training done on Guam. I attended a second meeting and the same general, upon closer questioning, stated that there will be limited live small arms training and that they may have to close off or restrict fishing in certain northern coastal areas due to live ammunition training.

Later, in a report I found detailing the buildup plans, it stated live ammunition training is being planned not only for the northern area, but is being considered for Naval Magazine. It doesn’t sound right to me, but then again I am not an expert. I fully intend to verify with those in the know.

Another interesting comment I heard was from Undersecretary of Defense BJ Penn at the industry forum. In a moment of levity, Mr. Penn, when discussing the military’s commitment to environmental integrity of the whole buildup, stated that he really is sincere to doing things the right way because he does not want to be sued. As a matter of fact, he was sued three times even before he was sworn in to his current job. I trust that he is sincere in his statements and that they will follow all environmental laws, rules and regulations.

But feeling the need to verify this statement, I find that, in fact, lawsuits have been filed against the military in their expansion activities in other locations. The courts have found the military short in their adherence to environmental laws and regulations. Some lawsuits are still in the courts because of the insistence that the military must have it their way.

The military planners continue to assure us that the buildup will result in partnerships between the local government and the military. They ask us to trust them and that it is their intention to help us make these partnerships work. Then, we find more information that verify the existence of the “special purpose entities” that will be formed to ensure the Japanese government takes care of its own companies and the military will get what it needs.

Curiously, there is one infrastructure project that the military is absolutely clear on. They want to partner with the local government on the landfill. They want the people of Guam to build a landfill on our side of the fence. They will happily truck their trash from their side of the fence to our side of the fence. And dump it in our backyard.

Trusted, busted and verified.

Way to go partner.


Ben Pangelinan is a senator in the 29th Guam Legislature and a former
speaker now serving his seventh term in the Guam Legislature.
E-mail comments or suggestions to or

Monday, August 27, 2007

Okura Burials

Guam Hotel Okura Archeology Site
The Marianas Variety

GROWING up on Guam I have always had a sense of awareness and respect for taotaomonas. My interests in the culture of the Mariana islands led me to pursue a degree in Anthropology at UOG. Over the summer I had the wonderful opportunity to do an internship with PHRI. PHRI is the Cultural Resource Management Firm contracted to conduct the archaeological excavations at the Guam Hotel Okura.

In recent weeks the Marianas Variety on Guam has covered stories on the archaeological work being done at the site. Unfortunately, the articles and editorials featured portrayed the archaeologists in a negative light. The archaeologists were scrutinized for their treatment of the human burial remains. It was very discouraging to read unfounded or ridiculous accusations regarding their work ethic. Contrary to what was printed, I found the archaeologists, Dave DeFant and Lynn Leon Guerrero, to be very professional and experienced. The project crew is exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable. Documenting and exhuming burial remains is not easy. It is labor-intensive, tedious and time consuming. The crew was always very mindful and respectful when handling the remains. Under their guidance, I learned about the processes involved in doing proper burial excavations and what it really takes to be an archaeologist. I was impressed by the team's enthusiasm and strong work ethic. For the past year and half, PHRI has worked in the hot sun upwards of eight hours a day, almost every day of the week! Their hard work and efforts are not in vain!

The artifacts and other archaeological findings coming out of Okura are new and exciting! It will give our community an expansive amount of information about our ancestors. The articles in Marianas Variety, while negative, really served to highlight the need to address our island's lack of salient policies dealing with historic and cultural preservation. With the onset of more development on Guam, it is imperative that a new museum is built to house and display the new and existing archaeological artifacts. The cultural history of our island is rich, deep and unique, and the current state of the Guam Museum does not do that history justice.
I learned so much about the first settlers on Guam from my short time working with the team at PHRI. The recent political controversies damaged their spirits, and that is a real shame, because they are doing our island a great service. I am very grateful for the experience of working with amazing people who truly care about our culture. Un Dångkolo na Si Yu'us Ma'åse to Dave DeFant, Lynn Leon Guerrero, Russell Kanai, Tasha Iriarte and Dee Cruz! Keep up the great work!

Sinajana, Guam

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Guam Industry Forum

Guam Industry Forum passes valuable lessons
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Friday, August 24, 2007

The place to be over the past two days for the island's private, public and federal sectors has been the Guam Industry Forum - a gathering so large, one venue alone couldn't contain it. The focus was on the opportunities that will abound with the migration of thousands of servicemembers and their families.

One of the highlights of today's forum was no doubt the speeches given by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and maybe more importantly the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Ike Skelton. "There is this buildup that's coming for Guam," said Skelton, the Missouri delegate. "It's a strategic decision that has been made at the highest level, it's a strategic decision that the Congress of the United States must cause to happen in what we do in particular the Armed Services Committee."

Congress and particularly the Committee are mandated by the Constitution of the United States of America to raise and maintain the military of the United States. The congressman says its his hope that they will be able to meet the strategic needs of the nation with Guam's military buildup. "This will be the tip of the national security spear for our country," he continued. "It's way out here in the Pacific, it's close to potential problems that we can't even foresee."

The congressman says that Guam's buildup is critical to the overall readiness of the U.S. armed forces to meet current and emerging threats here in the Asia-Pacific region. This buildup, according to Skelton, is something that must be done right the first time around for both the nation as a whole and for the people of Guam. "You can bet your bottom dollar that Madeline Bordallo on the Washington end and those of us on the Armed Services Committee will be doing our best to make it happen correctly, because it has to be done there's no second guessing it has to be done right," Skelton continued.

Congresswoman Bordallo says to get things done right will require the collaboration of all those who hold a stake in Guam's future and especially those businesses who are willing to invest in the island. She noted, "Private industry will be the backbone of the buildup and close cooperation and collaboration now between all parties involved is critical in ensuring the ultimate success of these projects."

And that's the focus of this entire two-day forum: to meet and entice investors and businesses through giving them a better understanding of the type products and services that will be needed for this massive military buildup. Denny Watts, chief executive officer and president of Watts Constructors, a business that already has a stake in Guam with military contracts including $80 million in homes for Big Navy, not to mention the new exchange at Yigo's Andersen Air Force Base.

Watts says the two-day forum was extremely informative. "What it really does though is it starts to move things down from the 100,000-foot level to the 50,000-foot level and to see how the monies going to be spent. Who is going to supply it what funds will come out of the government," he explained.

You can find out more the event about on the World Wide Web at

Japan May Control Military Money

Japan may control buildup money
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
August 24, 2007

JAPAN may end up controlling how the bulk of the money used for the military buildup on Guam is used.

This became apparent during yesterday’s Guam Industry Forum as one of the speakers indicated that Japan’s portion of the Marine relocation funding may not be subject to U.S. regulations.

Robert Little, assistant counsel of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, said that while the $4 billion committed by the American government will be subject to normal U.S. procurement rules, the special purpose entities that the Japanese will be forming to handle the Marine relocation may be exempted.

For instance, the bid preference for U.S. firms only applies to U.S. military construction appropriations. This means that the Japanese government could very well buy most of the materials and contract out the majority of the relocation work to Japanese companies.

Of the $10 billion price tag for the relocation of the Marines from Okinawa, the Japanese government will be shouldering 60 percent or about $6 billion.
This is unprecedented and marks the first time the Japanese government has agreed to share the costs of building and improving facilities at a U.S. base overseas.

Because of this, fears have been raised that only Japanese contractors may be tapped to handle the mammoth job of relocating the 8,000 Marines and their families to Guam.

According to Variety sources, many Japanese companies, most notably the giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, have already been quietly inspecting Guam and CNMI facilities.

The Guam Contractors Association has expressed concerns over the role Japanese firms may assume in the design and construction of facilities funded by the Japanese government and Japanese financial institutions.

One concern is whether Japanese standards may be substituted for U.S. standards where Japanese funds are used.

Some contractors also want to find out more details on the type of management structure expected to be put in place if Japan insists on using Japanese companies to manage the large and complex task of relocating the Marines and their families from Okinawa.

Okinawan politicians have likewise been lobbying to have displaced Okinawan workers used in the relocation of the Marines but GCA said this may not be the most cost effective source for labor.

Under the financing plan approved by the Japanese parliament, the state-run Japan Bank for International Cooperation has been designated as the bank that will give loans to contractors hired to help relocate the Marines to Guam.

JBIC is the arm of the Japanese government that undertakes lending and other operations for the promotion of Japanese economic activities overseas and it has demonstrated in the past a preference for Japanese companies, analysts say.
However, the Japanese Defense Ministry has said that JBIC will also give loans and investments to U.S. companies, with the U.S. firms paying back the money.

Local contractors interviewed by Variety also believe that while Japanese companies may get the major contracts, U.S. and Guam companies will still not lose out as they will surely be subcontracted by the Japanese.

The government of Guam likewise feels confident that the Japanese special purpose entities will tie up with U.S. and local firms to perform the many tasks connected with the Marine relocation.

During the recent House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs field oversight hearing, Gov. Felix P. Camacho pointed out that Guam already has a good relationship with the Japanese business community, noting that one of the island’s independent power producers is now run by a Japanese company.

Under the Marine relocation financing plan, Japan will provide $2.8 billion in grants, $1.5 billion in investments and another $1.79 billion in loans, with the investments and loans to be paid back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Comfort Women Resolution Awaits Vote

Comfort women resolution awaits vote
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
August 23, 2007

A LEGISLATIVE resolution demanding apologies and compensation from the Japanese government for the Imperial Army’s use of sex slaves — euphemistically known as “comfort women” — during World War II, was placed on a voting file yesterday.
“During the war, we were placed in a predicament where we had no control. Unless there is a public acknowledgment of this issue, it will not go to rest,” said Sen. Tony Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, co-author of Resolution 62 introduced by Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada.

Bill 62 seeks the inclusion of Guam in H.R. 121 introduced by Rep. Mike Honda, D-California, in the 110th Congress.

Honda’s resolution demands the Japanese government to formally “acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner” for the Japanese army’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery during Japan’s colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

“This resolution is long overdue. It covers a dark chapter in the history of Guam. So much atrocities were imposed on the people of Guam, especially the women who were most vulnerable. History has shown that this is one crime associated with war,” said Minority Leader Judi Won Pat, D-Malojloj, who asked that her name be included as cosponsor of Resolution 62.

Sen. Frank Blas Jr., R-Barrigada, also endorsed the adoption of the resolution, which he said can appease war victims particularly “our mothers, grandmothers, aunties and sisters, who experienced the atrocities.”
Blas said it is imperative for the Guam Legislature to demand such apology because “we, too, are victims deserving of apologies.”

Honda’s resolution was filed last January, partly to renew pressure on Japan ahead of the closure of the Asian Women’s Fund, a private foundation created in 1995. The creation of the fund was seen as a significant concession from Japan, which has always claimed that postwar treaties absolved it of all individual claims from World War II.

Legal Risks With Dandan Landfill Project

GovGuam faces legal risks in Dandan project
By Gina Tabonares
Variety News Staff
August 23, 2007

GOVERNMENT of Guam authorities who decided to pick Dandan as the site of a new landfill could be held accountable for the $10 million in public funds should further study support an option to condemn the area.
The risk of being questioned for the selection of Dandan came up yesterday as members of the Solid Waste Law Review Commission discussed the status of the pending court cases related to Guam’s solid waste management issues.
During the second meeting of the newly created commission, LRC chairman Sen. James Espaldon, R-Tamuning, talked about the synopsis of the pending litigations and the history of the landfill site selection efforts, as well as the status and scope of work that has been done in connection with GovGuam’s compliance with the consent decree to close the Ordot Dump and open a new landfill.
After Deputy Attorney General Patrick Mason briefed the commission on the four pending cases, representatives from the Guam Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Public Works were asked about the basis for selecting Dandan or Layon as the next landfill location.
The four cases are the USA v. GovGuam that resulted in the consent decree signed before the U.S. District Court of Guam; Pangelinan v. Camacho which questions the validity of the solid waste management agreement between GovGuam and GRRP; San Miguel v. Department of Public Works; and GRRP v. GovGuam pending before the Superior Court of Guam.
The case in federal court is waiting for a decision by Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood based on the report and recommendation made by Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan.
The cases of San Miguel and Pangelinan are both pending in the Supreme Court of Guam, while the GRRP lawsuit wherein the plaintiff seeks to recover $10 million from GovGuam for breach of the agreement is also pending in trial court.
Close to $10 million in government funds have been spent and an additional $20 million is needed to determine whether Dandan is suited for the landfill project.
Despite findings that Dandan has numerous environmental challenges and should be protected for water resources, the government is still considering Dandan pending the result of the nine-month hydrogeological study that will ascertain if the site is worth all the further mitigation expenses.
Atty. Ray Haddock of the Office of the Governor said there is an option to condemn the Dandan site, but they are waiting for the results of the further study before they decide to pick an alternative site.
The condemnation of the Dandan project could mean that the $10 million spent in the area was another waste of public funds.
A legal observer who requested anonymity told Variety that such waste of public funds could mean negligence and GovGuam officials could be held liable for their irresponsible dispersing of government monies.
The discussion on selecting Dandan heated up when Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, D-Mangilao, asked GEPA representatives about the basis and criteria used in the selection of the property.
Conchita Taitano, GEPA Air and Land Division director, said every single report was looked at, and there were 20 sites identified.
From the original list of prospective sites, the number was reduced to 12, then to six, and then to the top three candidates: Lonfit, Sabanan Batea, and Dandan/Layon.
Taitano added that GovGuam didn’t have a lot of money to conduct environmental impact studies on all potential landfill sites and the elimination of Guatali was based on its failure to meet several criteria such as slope, size and the presence of faults.
Guam Resource Recovery Partners coordinator David Sablan, however, informed the commission that the criteria were not part of the U.S. Environemntal Protection Agency’s standards and were only created by GEPA officials.
Silence ensued when an observer asked LRC members whether it was proper to spend $10 million on the location without proper property acquisition.
Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco said government work on site-specific projects can actually begin with acquired simple ownership and not a whole ownership.
However, the observer questioned why government funds had to be used on a location that has a number of challenges.
The same challenges prompted senators to introduce a bill that prohibits GovGuam from using public funds in any landfill construction site in the absence of property ownership.
The San Miguel case also aimed to prevent GovGuam from further expenditure on the Dandan project while stressing that Guatali has been identified as the primary site for new landfill and Malaa as the secondary site under Public Law 23-95.
Barnes added that a study conducted by the Guam Waterworks Authority recommended that Dandan not be used as a landfill site.
“The study made in January stated that the water level has kept re-surfacing and it will need additional infrastructure to meet the environmental challenges. The study was not released to the public,” she told the commission.
While LRC recognized that their decision-making is tied to the pending cases, the members agreed to outline viable alternative recommendations should the courts issue a decision on the pending litigations.
The commission will meet again on Wednesday morning.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Camacho at Guam Industry Forum

Camacho addresses industry forum
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
August 24, 2007

GOVERNOR Felix P. Camacho yesterday addressed the opening of the Guam Industry Forum, stressing that Guam is set to become a major player in the region as the military buildup enhances the quality of life for everyone.

“Like in any business, we must stay focused on our ultimate goals and keep our confidence and optimism. As Guam’s CEO, my ultimate goal and bottom line is the completion of the military expansion and that the outcomes achieved are sustainable, both physically and socially, for the foreseeable future,” the governor said in his keynote speech.

He said the challenge for the government now is to build a foundation for the future and transform an emerging community ready to accept the change that will be brought on by the buildup.

“We are taking the challenge and we want you to be our partners,” the governor told the assembled executives attending the forum.

Camacho said he has already asked the island’s economic, business and government stakeholders to collaborate and create an efficient system that will assure local and off-island partners a professional and friendly business climate.

The Civilian Military Task Force, composed of private sector and government agencies, will ensure the diversity of opinions are heard and solutions offered are acceptable to the people of Guam, the governor said.

He added that Guam’s strategic location is transforming the island into the Asia-Pacific Rim’s center for Asian-American trade.

“Guam’s strategic location is good for your business. We are where America’s day begins, and Asia’s closest U.S. connection. Since the days of the galleon trade, Guam has always been recognized for its strategic value because of its location,” the governor said.

He cited statistics which showed that real estate had an unprecedented increase of 300 percent from 2005 to 2006 alone and that Guam now ranks 8th among 36 insular economies on a Tourism Penetration Index.

“We are projecting 1.5 million arrivals in the next five years. We are confident that we can achieve this goal. Just as of June 2007, we reached nearly 1.4 million visitors,” the governor said.

Investment confidence is also high, Camacho added, pointing out that from 2006 to the second quarter of 2007, almost $413 million from the private sector and almost $211 million from the public sector was infused into the economy.

“I have said it in so many ways and in different words, in many functions and events, the military expansion for Guam spells progress. Military expansion means a strong economy that would support our core industries and infrastructure. But, more importantly, this would ensure that future generations who call Guam home would have opportunities to accomplish their dreams,” he concluded.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kitty Hawk Sailor Arrested

Sailor arrested for damaging vehicles, attempted robbery

by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM News
Monday, August 20, 2007


A sailor assigned to the U.S.S. Kittyhawk spent his liberty in jail after he was arrested on Friday night. The sailor was found damaging vehicles in a Tumon parking lot and attempted to rob an adult specialty store.

21-year-old Moses Jackson, Jr. was arrested by officers with the Guam Police Department's Tumon-Tamuning Precinct charged with attempted armed robbery, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest, just to name a few.

Monday, August 20, 2007

High Emotions at Congressional Townhall Meeting

Town hall meeting featured high emotions
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday night's town hall meeting on the proposed military expansion for Guam, hosted by congressional representative Madeleine Bordallo, lasted much longer than the two hours than it was scheduled for. Bordallo was joined by U.S. Virgin Islands delegate Donna Christensen and Congressman Eni Faleomavaega from American Samoa. All three congressional delegates are members of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, which Christensen chairs.

For several hours the members heard testimony from various sectors of the community, many of whom waited several hours just to be able to have a seat at the table.

Trying to summarize years of what they perceived as inequality in five minutes angered many of those who showed up to testify. The effort was difficult for many island residents who testified before the congressional panel on the Department of Defense's proposed military expansion for Guam. Chamorro language teacher Linda Edwards tried to summarize what life was like living with the military in her backyard, saying, "When I was a young kid growing up in Yigo I recall then we had certain days of the week they would go out and spray these chemicals in there and we were told to go in the house. When they started to do that, I'll never forget that. And then after all these years I think we were still exposed to his in our soil, plants and water. What was that chemical and what contaminants did it contain? My mother had Parkinson's Disease and her sister and all her cousins and all died fro Parkinson's, and to take care of an invalid such as that is very hard, especially being the only girl."

Linda's story was just one of many from those who showed up to Thursday night's town hall meeting on the proposed military expansion. Others who served on the front line defending America like Phil Cruz, a retired Army man. He says he didn't understand why a hearing held specifically for the people had to wait at the end of the line in order to testify. "If you were good enough you would have said hear the people fist and I'll come after you."

Cruz waited like others to give their testimony. His opportunity came at around 11pm last night. "Be careful, Guam. I am not approving and disapproving this until all info comes out. I just want to say I don't know what you're intentions are and by the way you elected officials when you go negotiate turn this table around you should be up there and let the military ask you the questions they are the visitors we live here," he warned.

Emotional testimony also came from David Sablan who believes the island can not accommodate such an influx. "Our island is too small, so tiny, that it's only a dot on the map and this is the largest military buildup in the history of the United States, and you're going to bring it to the littlest place? Can we make some sense there are we thinking or what? Hello?!?!?"

Patrea Sablan said she believes the military buildup is really a cover for a prelude to war. "No more smoke screening say it's a war buildup say it as it really is and how long will it before you can tell us because you know we all adults here on Guam."

Further, Pauline Pangelinan made reference to local media reports. On the recent announcement and unilateral decision by U.S. Navy officials on Guam about its plans to double the amount of water it charges the Guam Waterworks Authority for water from Fena. "This is a classic example of the callous disregard the military has for the people of Guam," she charged.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Navy May Increase Price of Water

Navy may increase water rate to GWA
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's quite possible the Navy could up the rate it's charging the Guam Waterworks Authority water from Fena. Currently GWA buys about $3 million a year of water from the Navy to supply southern residents with H2O, about $2 per every thousand gallons. According to Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairperson Simon Sanchez, he's heard the Navy plans to bump that up to $4.

Sanchez maintains the answer is to integrate the systems, telling KUAM News, "One of there concerns is that they don't have the economies of scale, which forces their costs to be higher. We offer to them GWA has economies of scale we run a bigger system we service more ratepayers and maybe it's time to do what we've done with the airport and with the Guam Power Authority is to begin to merge these systems because it's clearly too expensive when you have separate systems, especially if the Navy's charging as much as they are."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Guam Legislature Speaks Out

Feds asked to match Guam’s allegiance
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
August 17, 2007

MEMBERS of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs last night heard the Guam senators’ chorus, stressing that the federal government should match the level of allegiance and patriotism of the people of Guam by treating them as equals.

They demanded that the federal government share the burden placed on Guam resulting from the impending military buildup.

Senators insisted that Guam desperately needs federal funding assistance as it scrambles to build new infrastructure, expand healthcare, and strengthen public safety to accommodate new residents who will come to Guam, along with the 8,000 Marines who will be relocated from Okinawa.

A long list of individuals has signed up to testify at the town hall meeting hosted by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Donna Christensen, D-Virgin Islands, at the Hilton Resort and Spa.

The lawmakers were on the priority list. The meeting was ongoing as of press time.

Vice Speaker Eddie B. Calvo, R-Maite, requested that all information pertinent to the buildup must be open and accessible to all developers, including local investors. He also asked the federal government to increase federal support for the Guam Apprentice Program to enable the island to produce its own labor pool to pick up the construction projects.

Sen. Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, said the $700 million in investment funds that retired General David Bice said would be poured into utility projects must be directed toward the civilian community. “The military shouldn’t grab that entire $700 million for themselves. We depend on Congress to make sure that we get what we need,” Pangelinan said.

Sen. James Espaldon, R-Tamuning, urged the federal government to look beyond the strategic importance of Guam and start showing respect for its citizens.

“The frustration we face, aside from the financial constraints, is that the quality of life of our island does not seem to be a part of the strategic vision that the Department of Defense has,” Espaldon said. “Our quality of life seems to be only a footnote to their strategic plan.”

Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Agana Heights, said the amount of money being requested by Guam is “miniscule,” considering the huge amount that the Japanese government pledged to the U.S. for the Marine relocation.

Besides funding assistance, senators also presented a long list of issues that they said the federal government must look into.

Sen. Frank Ishizaki, R-Yona, requested that the military assist the Guam Police Department with the public safety aspect of increased population. He requested that joint military-police posts be built on both ends of the island.

Sen. Judith Guthertz, D-Mangilao, asked the federal government to revisit Guam’s quest for self-determination.

Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, D-Mangilao, briefly discussed the Navy’s decision to increase rates for water services provided by Fena. “This is the kind of unilateral action by the military that decreases the community’s support for the military,” she said.

Sen. Jesse Lujan, R-Tamuning, said if the federal government refuses to treat the people of Guam as equals, “then maybe independence is the way to go.”

Political status, war claims pushed
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
August 17, 2007

MINORITY Leader Judith T. Won Pat, D-Malojloj, has urged visiting Congresswoman Donna Christensen, D-Virgin Islands, to focus not just on the military buildup but also on Guam’s quest for political status and war reparations.

According to Won Pat, political status and war reparations are two issues of paramount importance to the people of Guam that have yet to be resolved.

“I won’t belabor the issue but just to say that on political status, there is a need for Congress to support and fund the local effort for Chamorros to finally determine their own political destiny,” the minority leader said.

On the issue of war reparations, Won Pat said many Chamorros are elated that the World War II Loyalty Recognition Act has made it to the U.S. Senate.

The Guam War Claims Review Commission established by Congress found that the U.S. has a moral obligation to pay proper compensation for war damages and that there is a lack of parity in war claims for Guam when compared to other war claims programs established by the U.S. Congress.

“I hope Congress will do the right thing and pass this very important legislation for the people of Guam and finally bring closure to this dark chapter in Guam’s history,” the senator said.

She is also hopeful that Christensen’s visit will convey to Congress the frustration and anxiousness that Guamanians feel about the coming military buildup and to recognize the need to include Guam and their leaders in the full scope of any discussion regarding the buildup.

“I commend Chairwoman Christensen for holding her hearing on Guam and I hope this will be the first of many congressional oversight field hearings that will be conducted on Guam regarding the buildup,” Won Pat said

There have been many discussions about Guam being the “tip of the spear” and that Guam is of the highest strategic value and of great importance to the mission of the United States in regional security and national defense.

But as a U.S. territory so far removed from the mainland, Won Pat said Guam issues and concerns often fall on deaf ears.

“This is why this oversight hearing on Guam means so much to the future of our island. It will be decisions made in Washington, D.C., and not on Guam, that will determine the direction of Guam for decades to come,” the senator pointed out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Residents Speak Out on the Military Buildup

Residents speak on buildup
Town hall meeting presents local views to U.S. Congress
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News
August 17, 2007

With Guam's future at stake, many Guam residents spoke before a Congressional panel at last night's town hall meeting on the looming military buildup.

The buildup's $14 billion to $15 billion price tag -- a scale about four times the size of Guam's economy -- generated a mix of positive and negative comments about what the military's increased presence would do to the island.

For some of the residents who spoke out, their concerns were related to money.

Others voiced hope that as the buildup preparations progress, the military and officials of the federal government treat Guam as a partner rather than a subordinate.

"We need to sit at the table as equals and talk about it," said Democratic Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, who added that her husband and oldest son serve in the U.S. military.

But while Guam has generally voiced support for increased military presence on island, a new issue, according to Barnes, could erode local support for the buildup.

Rising water price
The Navy's recent confirmation that it would double the price of the local water agency's purchase of water from the military-held Fena water treatment plant, Barnes said, "makes our local people very angry."

The Navy earlier this week confirmed it would increase the Guam Waterworks Authority's purchase price of water from Fena from about $3 million to $6 million a year because of increased cost to operate the water treatment plant.

The increase, which the Navy plans to implement in about two months, would equate to a 6 percent increase in what GWA customers pay for water, said Simon Sanchez, chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.

The plant is the primary source of water for Nimitz, Santa Rita, Agat and other southern Guam areas.

"This increase in water cost, this unilateral action, ... jeopardizes local support," Muna Barnes said.

A major part of the Guam buildup involves the relocation from Okinawa of about 8,000 members of the U.S. Marines and about 9,000 of their relatives. The buildup's construction activities also are expected to cause an influx of about 15,000 construction workers.

With more civilian and military residents on Guam, the local population, last counted in a federal census at close to 160,000, would surge.

Becoming San Diego
Retired Marine Adolf Sgambelluri, a longtime Guam resident, commented that he expects Guam's quality of life to improve.

"I don't have a problem with Guam becoming like Oahu or San Diego," Sgambelluri said.

One benefit of the economic and population boom, Sgambelluri said, is that prices of consumer goods would drop because the local economy becomes bigger.

Another retired Marine, John Gerber, said he's disappointed that even some of Guam's elected officials have made comments that the Marines are "big, ... bad men."

The Marines built Marine Corps Drive and more than 300 miles of Guam roads after World War II, Gerber said. "When I heard about the Marines returning to Guam, I was very happy. It's a windfall," he said.

The military buildup has the support of "the silent majority of our people on Guam," Gerber said, citing surveys such as the Guam Chamber of Commerce's.

Those who cast the reputation of the Marines and the rest of the military in a bad light have no respect, he said, for American troops fighting in Iraq and deployed foreign missions such as Afghanistan.

"It really bothers me to hear my corps being trashed as they are in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting as we speak. This is not about the Marine Corps, this is a national defense issue," Gerber said. "I don't like people saying Marines are big, bad men ... that is not the Marines of today at all," Gerber said.

On record
The comments voiced at the town hall meeting, which were heard by congressional Delegates Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Madeleine Bordallo of Guam and Rep. Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, were recorded and will become a part of congressional records.

Local officials asked the congressional delegates to be advocates for Guam's local community.

The meeting started around 6 p.m. at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa and still continued past 9 last night.

The local community's voices will help to shape what the military's actions will be, said Christensen, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs.

"Guam is now at a very, very critical point," Faleomavaega said.

Bordallo emphasized that the military's buildup plans for Guam are not final.

Money issue
Guam needs the federal government to provide Guam with the money to host the military buildup, rather than expect the local government to use "non-existent" local funds, said Sen. Eddie Calvo, the Guam Legislature's vice speaker and Finance Committee chairman.

Without federal money to help Guam host the buildup, Calvo offered the analogy of a rich brother visiting his poor brother's home and asking the poor brother to pay for the rich brother's stay.

Democratic Sen. Ben Pangelinan said rather than listing all of Guam's wishes for more money associated with the buildup, he gave the congressional panel his assessment of local sentiment.

"Some wholeheartedly welcome the military, some halfheartedly welcome the military, and some don't like the military," Pangelinan said.

He noted that the military in one meeting said it would not conduct live-ammunition exercises on Guam; and in another meeting said it would do so.

David Bice, executive director of the Joint Program Office, said he understands the local community's frustration about not getting more detailed information from the military.

But Bice said the buildup still is in a phase where "homework" is being done toward putting together more firm plans.

To emphasize the complexity of the "homework" and other preparations related to the buildup, Bice mentioned that the Japanese government's money contributions toward relocating U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam are a first for the country in terms for a foreign government financially supporting a move of American troops to U.S. soil.

Pangelinan also called for more military openness on what its plans are for Guam.

"If you want to come to Guam, say you want to come to Guam, ... otherwise, we have this adversarial relationship, ... this big brother coming to us," Pangelinan said.

"We need to be told the truth of what the military needs, ... and what they offer to Guam," Pangelinan said.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Unpingco Hits Navy Fena Plan

Unpingco hits Navy Fena plan
Thursday, August 16, 2007
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

SENATOR Antonio Unpingco, R-Santa Rita, has criticized the Navy’s plan to increase the rate it charges for water processed at its Fena treatment plant.

Unpingco, who heads the Legislature’s military committee, described the Navy plan as “a shocking blow,” coming as it does when all other prices are also rising for such items as gasoline and power.

“Contrary to what the Navy says, the plan to increase rates will not just affect three villages but also other areas in the south,” said Unpingco, who hails from Santa Rita.

The Navy currently sells water to the Guam Waterworks Authority to supply the villages of Santa Rita, Agat and Piti.
According to the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, the Navy plans to double its rate from $2 to $4 per thousand gallons starting Oct. 1.

If the increase is implemented, CCU estimates this would result in a cost increase to GWA of $3 million.

The Navy, however, maintains that the impact of an increase would be minimal since only three villages will be affected.

Lt. Donnell Evans, public affairs officer of the U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, said this will not have a significant effect on GWA’s bottom line.

He also said the Navy’s costs to operate Fena have increased, necessitating an increase in rates.

Unpingco, however, said the whole island will be affected by the increase implemented by the Navy for its Fena water.

“In the end, GWA’s cost will increase and GWA will have to pass on its increased costs to all of its customers. The whole island will end up paying to defray the cost,” the senator said.

In light of this development, Unpingco said his committee is looking at all avenues to see how the impact of a Navy rate increase could be mitigated.

“Perhaps we should revisit the plan to reclaim Fena. This should have been done a long time ago,” Unpingco said.

CCU chairman Simon Sanchez had said that it may be time to merge the Navy and GWA water systems and take over Fena.

Sanchez said GWA may be able to run Fena better and achieve economies of scale because GWA has a bigger customer base.

Military Buildup Brings Tensions to Guam

U.S. military buildup brings tensions on Guam
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted at 12:20 p.m., Thursday, August 16, 2007
Associated Press

HAGATNA, Guam — Guam territorial Sen. Tina Muna Barnes said Thursday she hopes the federal government will treat Guam as a partner rather than a subordinate as it carries out a massive military buildup on the Pacific Island.

"We need to sit at the table as equals and talk about it," the Democrat said at a congressional panel meeting held to discuss the military buildup. Muna Barnes' husband and oldest son serve in the U.S. military.

The Defense Department and the Japanese government plan to spend more than $10 billion moving some 8,000 Marines to Guam from Okinawa. Other projects will expand the U.S. Air Force presence on the U.S. island territory.

The buildup is expected to boost Guam's population of some 160,000 by 20 percent or more as the Marines and their families move in and construction workers arrive to build new facilities. It's also expected to help the economy.

But Muna Barnes says some residents are unhappy with what they say are unilateral decisions by the military.

For example, the Navy recently said it would double the price it charged the local water agency for water from a military-held Fena water treatment plant.

The price hike, expected in about two months, would equal a 6 percent increase in what Guam Waterworks' Authority customers pay for water, said Simon Sanchez, chairman of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.

"This increase in water cost, this unilateral action ... jeopardizes local support," Muna Barnes said. It "makes our local people very angry," she added.

Sen. Eddie Calvo, the Guam Legislature's vice speaker and Finance Committee chairman, said the federal government should provide Guam with enough money to host the military buildup. He said Washington shouldn't expect the island to use "nonexistent" local funds.

U.S. Congressional Delegates Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Madeleine Bordallo of Guam and Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa heard the comments. They were recorded as part of the Congressional Record.

"Guam is now at a very, very critical point," Faleomavaega said.

The local community's voices will help shape what the military's actions will be, said Christensen, chairwoman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs.

A retired Marine, John Gerber, said the military buildup has the support of "the silent majority of our people on Guam." He cited opinion surveys done by groups like the Guam Chamber of Commerce.

He noted that Marines built Marine Corps Drive and more than 300 miles of Guam roads after World War II.

"When I heard about the Marines returning to Guam, I was very happy. It's a windfall," he said.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Navy May Increase Water Rate to GWA

Navy may increase water rate to GWA
by Clynt Ridgell, KUAM News
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's quite possible the Navy could up the rate it's charging the Guam Waterworks Authority water from Fena. Currently GWA buys about $3 million a year of water from the Navy to supply southern residents with H2O, about $2 per every thousand gallons. According to Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairperson Simon Sanchez, he's heard the Navy plans to bump that up to $4.

Sanchez maintains the answer is to integrate the systems, telling KUAM News, "One of there concerns is that they don't have the economies of scale, which forces their costs to be higher. We offer to them GWA has economies of scale we run a bigger system we service more ratepayers and maybe it's time to do what we've done with the airport and with the Guam Power Authority is to begin to merge these systems because it's clearly too expensive when you have separate systems, especially if the Navy's charging as much as they are."

Federalization Bill to be Redrafted

US Senate federalization bill will be redrafted
By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff
August 17, 2007

U.S. Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Affairs David Cohen says he’s been asked by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to redraft S. 1634 and include some of the changes that were suggested during their July 19 hearing.

But Cohen said the controversial provision granting nonimmigrant status to nearly 8,000 migrant workers on the islands will stay despite strong opposition from the Fitial administration.

“This is a unique situation —we’re not going to change that,” he said when asked if the latest version of S. 1634, or the Northern Mariana Islands Covenant Implementation Act, will retain the nonimmigrant provision.

He added that the amended version, which is due to be submitted this month, will not include the nonvoting delegate provision for the Northern Marianas in the U.S. Congress as proposed by a similar bill, H.R. 3079, or the Northern Mariana Islands Immigration, Security and Labor Act.
He said many of the amendments to S.1634 are related to technicalities and clearing ambiguous clauses.

According to Cohen, the federal government recognizes that it has the moral responsibility to ensure that all the migrant workers in the CNMI are given due process and protection.

U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs Chairwoman Donna Christensen, D-U.S. Virgin Islands, told reporters on Wednesday she will only make minor amendments to her bill, H.R. 3079.

“It’s very possible that we will make some technical amendments to maybe clarify some areas. We still have to look at provisions that cause so much concern here, which is the guest workers’ program. We want to make sure that we treat the temporary guest workers fairly and justly and, if we can, at the same time take into consideration the concerns that have been raised,” she said.

As for Fitial’s proposed federalization bill, Christensen said she will review it. “If there’s something in there that can reasonably be placed in our bill, we will give it consideration,” she said.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial’s version does not include the nonimmigrant status provision.
Cohen said the CNMI will continue to have nonresident workers even if its immigration system is federalized.

He said it’s not true that the CNMI will only be allowed to host migrant workers until 2017.

“If there is a finding that the CNMI guest worker program is needed, it can be extended in five- year increments indefinitely, as many times as necessary,” he said.

Cohen said Christensen and Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, while here, met with some victims of labor abuses through the Federal Labor Ombudsman’s Office.

“They met a young lady from the Philippines who was forced to dance nude and was confined in her barracks,” he said.

The congresswomen also met a Chinese man who was recruited to work as a carpenter but ended up paying his recruiter for a non-existent beautician job on Saipan.

“Now he’s in debt, he’s got no job. He can’t go home,” said Cohen. “They also met a young woman from China who was listed as a singer in her application but she has no singing experience and she didn’t know that that’s what the application said. When she arrived here there was no job after she paid thousands of dollars back home.”

He said all of those cases show the extent of the problems in the local labor and immigration systems.

“Our purpose is not to make the CNMI look bad and we know that there’s a lot of sensitivity in the local administration aboutthe CNMI looking bad in any way,” Cohen said. “We respect that but it’s important for the members of the Congress to know that despite the tremendous progress that the CNMI has made in recent years to improve labor conditions, all the problems are not yet solved.”

Fuetsan Famalao'an in Action

Women’s group demands impact study on troop buildup
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

MILITARY expansion must come with a thorough study of its impact on the island’s environment, healthcare, education and other social issues likely to be affected by the population surge on Guam, according to women activists.

They are also demanding transparency and an open line of communication with U.S. leaders.

The women’s group, called Fuetsan Famalao’an, met with Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and U.S. Virgin Islands Rep. Donna Christensen at the Outrigger Hotel on Sunday and discussed their concerns about the impending relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The Sunday brunch meeting, hosted by Bordallo, saw a gathering of 35 women representing various sectors of the community.

“We seek to bring to the center socio-cultural issues which tend to be marginalized in public discussion of the impact of military expansion,” Fuetsan Famalao’an member Nicole Santos said.

Another member, Therese Terlaje, noted that “because this proposed military buildup is unprecedented, unprecedented attention must be given to all its consequences and impacts.”

Members of the group are scheduled to hold another dialog with Bordallo and Christensen at the town hall meeting to be held at the Hilton Resort and Spa tomorrow.

“Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo seemed surprised by the concerns that women presented during the Sunday meeting. She probably hasn’t heard of them before. She was surprised to find out that many of us are opposing the military expansion,” former Senator Hope Cristobal told Variety.

Lisa Natividad discussed the environmental degradation that resulted from the presence of toxic chemicals left by the military and the various diseases contracted by Guam residents as a result of the contamination from nuclear tests conducted in the Pacific in the 1950s.

“The reckless military practices of the past have taken their toll on the health of our people. Now Guam is again being asked to continue making sacrifices in the name of national defense,” Natividad said.

At tomorrow’s town hall meeting, Cristobal will present a list of recommendations to address a number of issues linked to the military buildup.

“Congress must responsibly address the cumulative effect of all proposed military projects together with past and current military activity and presence. The effectiveness of past mitigation efforts by the military should be assessed in order to determine the prudence of allowing future mitigation where adverse impact is expected,” Cristobal stated in a written statement.

She also demands that the people of Guam be fully informed of the results of any environmental studies done or being done on Guam.

“A cumulative study is particularly important relative to past military use of our landfill and over 80 contaminated dump sites still existing on Guam that have yet to be cleaned up by the military, despite their placement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup lists for many years,” Cristobal said.

At Sunday’s meeting, Bordallo pointed out that impact studies, funded by the federal government, will be conducted, and reassured the group that “a final decision has not been made.”

The women activists are also demanding the federal government revisit other recurring issues that have not been resolved, including the return of ancestral lands to their original owners and war reparations.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Resisting Recruitment in Puerto Rico

Recruiting For Iraq War Undercut in Puerto Rico
Paul Lewis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 18, 2007; A01

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The political activists, brown envelopes tucked under their arms, staked out the high school gates just after sunrise. When students emerged from the graffiti-scorched streets of the Rio Piedra neighborhood here and began streaming toward their school, the pro-independence advocates ripped open the envelopes and began handing the teens fliers emblazoned with the slogan: "Our youth should not go to war."

At the bottom of the leaflet was a tear sheet that students could sign and later hand to teachers, to request that students' personal contact information not be released to the U.S. Defense Department or to anyone involved in military recruiting.

The scene outside the Ramon Vila Mayo high school unfolded at schools throughout Puerto Rico this week as the academic year opened. On this island with a long tradition of military service, pro-independence advocates are tapping the territory's growing anti-Iraq war sentiment to revitalize their cause. As a result, 57 percent of Puerto Rico's 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, or their parents, have signed forms over the past year withholding contact information from the Pentagon -- effectively barring U.S. recruiters from reaching out to an estimated 65,000 high school students.

"If the death of a Puerto Rican soldier is tragic, it's more tragic if that soldier has no say in that war," said Juan Dalmau, secretary general of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). His efforts are saving the island's children from becoming "colonial cannon meat," he said.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools receiving U.S. federal funding must provide their students' names, addresses and phone numbers to the military unless the child or parents sign an opt-out form. Puerto Rico received $1.88 billion in U.S. education funds this year. For five years, PIP has issued opt-out forms to about 120,000 students in Puerto Rico and encouraged them to sign -- and independista activists expect this year to mark their most successful effort yet.

Such actions come as other antiwar groups on the island are seeking to undercut military recruiting, as well. For example, the Coalition of Citizens Against Militarism, an association of pacifist groups, plans to visit about 70 schools on the island in the coming days, meaning that many students will receive two, or even three, opt-out forms by the end of August.

Antiwar advocates have even gained direct access to Puerto Rican classrooms under a controversial directive issued last September by Rafael Aragunde, the island's education secretary, granting "equal access" by pacifist groups and military recruiters.

Although he will not bar recruiters from schools, Aragunde said, he has a "lot of sympathy" for what pacifist groups are trying to accomplish. "I've always felt that one of the byproducts of a good educational system is that you have citizens who will defend pacifism," he said. "I think that just like we have to insist on ecological values, we have to insist on pacifist values." Aragunde described his relations with military recruiters as "cordial."

Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, acknowledged that the counter-recruiting campaigns are having an impact. "We're drawing less than the national average" in Puerto Rico, he said.

In the 2003-06 period, 4,947 Puerto Rican men and women enlisted in the Army or Reserves, or approximately 123 people per 100,000 residents, according to Pentagon data. That is below the average contribution of U.S. states, and far below the numbers in states such as Alabama, Kansas, Montana and Oklahoma, each of which enlists more than 200 men and women per 100,000, according to Army data.

"We're not taking more than our share from Puerto Rico," Carr said. "We're taking less than our share, because that's what they'll give us." Carr said he suspects that opt-out rates for states in the continental United States rarely break beyond 10 percent -- a far cry from the nearly 60 percent on the island.

Reaction outside the gates of the Ramon Vila Mayo school this week seem to confirm that suspicion. A few students shrugged off the political activists' overtures, while others smiled and declared their interest in joining the "Yankee" military. But most of the teens politely accepted the forms, nodded and even fetched pens from their school bags.

Calls for Puerto Rico's independence have existed since the days of Spanish colonial rule and continued after the United States seized control of the island in 1898. In the 1950s, a branch of the movement attempted a violent uprising. Although many Puerto Ricans express deep patriotism for the island, the independence impulse has never translated in the polls -- either in elections or in successive plebiscites on the status of the territory, in which independence has repeatedly been rejected.

Leaders from the island's two major political parties say that their PIP opponents are exploiting young people to advance their separatist grievances. And Pentagon officials accuse the activists of "manipulating" impressionable young people.

"What's going on in Puerto Rico is an artificial circumstance, where a group is trying to persuade students to take their name off a list, and of course that's going to meet in some change in behavior," Carr said. "In the event that someone approaches a young person and their voluntary behavior is to take an opt-out card and give it to their teacher, there's nothing we can or should do in that case. That's free speech. But it's curious speech, because it's manipulating the flow of information . . . and that is unhealthy."

The Pentagon said it is on track to meet its recruiting targets for this fiscal year. However, despite a $3.2 billion national recruitment campaign, the military was forced to bring back 1,000 former recruiters to help with the summer months -- the peak recruiting period -- and late last month introduced a $20,000 "quick-ship" bonus for recruits willing to enter training before October. Carr said that Puerto Rico's anti-military drive could force recruiters to focus on states such as Texas, where they meet with less resistance.

Maj. Ricardo Sierra, who runs eight of Puerto Rico's 14 Army recruiting stations, rejected the notion that anti-recruitment efforts are affecting his operations. High school students are not his target demographic, he said, because few speak English well enough to pass military entrance exams. Instead, Sierra said, recruiters are meeting targets by contacting college-educated students.

"We do target [high school students], we do campaigns, we talk to the seniors, but we don't get a whole lot of them," Sierra said, estimating that the U.S. military enlists an average of 22 Puerto Rican high school graduates per year.

Senior chief Joe Vega, who heads the island's three Navy recruiting stations, said that "if Puerto Rico was a fully bilingual state or country, the recruiting contribution would be much higher." His top recruiter, Chief Select Ernesta Marrero, said that many young people sign up out of patriotism or a sense of obligation to the United States.

"Being part of the U.S. is what gives them the right to their freedom, democracy, the chance to voice their opinions -- it's the constitution that we [the military] uphold," Marrero said.

Sonia Santiago, founder of the local group Mothers Against War, said her volunteers visit schools to "unmask" the way in which recruiters promise "villas y castillas" (villas and castles) that they cannot deliver. One persuasive tactic, she added, is to ask children how their mothers would feel if they were injured or killed in war.

Aragunde, the education secretary and a self-declared independista, said that most Puerto Ricans do not view the U.S. armed forces as "their military." According to a recent poll by the Puerto Rican daily El Nuevo Día, 75 percent of commonwealth residents oppose the Iraq war -- a figure that has escalated with the number of Puerto Ricans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon lists 37 service members from the island as killed in action in the two conflicts, but local antiwar groups say the number exceeds 80, including suicides and soldiers recruited from the U.S. mainland.

Deaths of all Puerto Rican troops make headlines here. The funeral in March of Army Cpl. Jason Nunez, 22, proved particularly emotional. In images broadcast throughout the island, his mother removed the U.S. flag from her son's coffin and deliberately dropped it to the floor. She later implored other parents not to allow their children to fight in the U.S. military.

Aragunde said such images shape public opinion. "You don't want children fighting on the streets, you don't want children cheating, nor stealing, and you don't want them to think that an alternative to solving any conflict is war," he said. "I feel it's my obligation to defend that value."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Better Poor Than Dead

'It's better being poor than dead'

THE Congressional hearing on August 13 on the military buildup on Guam was intentionally planned as to who should be allowed (now "invited") to testify. That's why there was no mention in our local media about the deadline to submit your name and testimony if you wanted to participate.

I "thank" our delegate, Madeleine Bordallo and this administration for barring certain activists such as Nasion Chamoru, who have been the most vocal and outspoken against this impending catastrophe.

Our Guamanian leaders know very well that they don't want the Virgin Islands delegate, Donna Christensen, and the rest of the "Team U.S.A." Resources Subcommitte members, to see and hear Nasion Chamoru testify that this massive military buildup will ruin Guam. They only want to hear from people who will give their "amen" and "sweet" testimony about how good this military buildup will mean to our island, for the so-called economic boom and opportunities.

Our senators who were "invited" to participate in this field hearing should refuse the invitation since it is not totally open to the community for public participation.

I see this hearing, except for a few individuals, as nothing more than a gathering of the puppets and carpetbaggers to show their commitment to the military and in the interest of their deep pockets.

To my people, we are in a very critical crisis. Whereas, I say that this massive military buildup will ruin Guam, I also say it would be better being poor than dead!
Fan Ma'naitai (pray) yan si Yu'os enfanbinindisi. Biba Chamoru! Biba Taotao Ta'no!

Maga'lahi, Nasion Chamoru
The Marianas Variety
August 10, 2007

Russians "Buzz" Guam

Russia boasts buzzing U.S. base in Cold War-style assertiveness
Andrew Borowiec
Washington Times
August 10, 2007

GENEVA —Russian long-range bombers buzzed a U.S. naval base at Guam, Russian military officials said yesterday, the first such sortie since the Cold War and just the latest example of Moscow's growing assertiveness in reclaiming some of the prerogatives of its Soviet superpower days.

Russian Maj. Gen. Pavel Androsov boasted in a Moscow press conference that the pilots of the two TU-95 turboprop bombers flew close enough to the U.S. jets that scrambled to track them Wednesday that the Russian pilots were able to "exchange smiles" with their American counterparts.

The unannounced, 13-hour flight was just the latest in a series of incidents that have given rise to fears across Europe that Russia's post-communist opening to the world is increasingly giving way to a more inward-looking, nationalist fervor under President Vladimir Putin.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler confirmed the flight of the two Russian bombers, but said they did not come as close to U.S. assets as the Russians suggested.

"We were prepared to intercept the planes, but they never came close enough to a U.S. ship or to the island of Guam to warrant an air-to-air intercept," he said.

Russia under Mr. Putin rejects Western criticisms of its economy and political freedoms and shows a growing official appreciation in government, the press and education for the achievements of the communist era, according to Western analysts.

Recent Russian films reaching Western Europe portray Josef Stalin not as a brutal dictator responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians, but as a heroic leader who defeated Nazi Germany.

"In Russia today, any call to restore former Cold War greatness and stature is applauded," according to Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian military analyst for the Jamestown Foundation, though Mr. Felgenhauer questions whether the Kremlin has the resources and will to match Mr. Putin's grandiose rhetoric.

Russian government officials have been conspicuously absent from events this year marking the 70th anniversary of Stalin's Great Purge of 1937, when millions of citizens were killed or shipped off to labor camps.

Mr. Putin, in remarks earlier this summer, did not defend the Stalin purges, but said Russians today should not wallow in shame or guilt because "in other countries even worse things happened" — including the U.S. atomic bomb strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Liberal opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky said at a memorial ceremony south of Moscow on Wednesday that the Putin government was "almost completely ignoring" the Great Purge anniversary, "one of the most convincing pieces of evidence that Russian authorities sympathize with Stalin's regime," according to the Associated Press.

Disclosures of Stalinist purges and massacres are being discouraged, analysts say, and school textbooks are being rewritten to include the "positive sides" of the communist era.

The back-to-the-Cold-War sentiment can be seen particularly in Russian military policy, with the Guam mission part of a pattern of events that call to mind the Soviet Cold War era.

Russian explorers who planted a flag on the North Pole seabed to strengthen Moscow's territorial claims received a heroes' welcome earlier this week in the Russian press, despite angry rejections of the Russian claim by the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway.

Last week, Russia's navy chief, Adm. Vladimir Masorin, sounded another echo of the Soviet era when he said that Russia "must restore a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea" — a presence Moscow has not had since the Cold War.

The Russian reassertiveness is being felt even in the arts.

According to Russian movie producer Nikita Dostal, plans for films depicting Soviet setbacks or events such as Stalin's massive ethnic resettlements or the 1937 purges are "simply set aside."

In some recent films, Stalin is not portrayed as the short man with a pock-marked face he was, but as a dignified, handsome leader who inspired victory.

The resurgence of nationalism reflects the popular feeling that the United States and the West exploited Russia's weakness after the Soviet collapse and the fact that the Kremlin's coffers are now bulging because of energy revenue, according to Ariel Cohen, a Russia specialist at the Heritage Foundation.

"Flush with cash, Russia today is constantly looking for avenues to boost its geopolitical muscle," he said. "That has translated into some very ambitious strategic programs."

• David R. Sands contributed to this article from Washington.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Veteran Seeks Agent Orange Probe

Veteran seeks probe into Agent Orange use in Guam
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
August 9, 2007

A RETIRED airman is seeking a congressional inquiry into the extensive use of Agent Orange in Guam, where he was deployed between 1960 and 1970 as a fuel specialist tasked to mix and spray herbicides at Andersen Air Force Base and surrounding areas.

MSgt. LeRoy G. Foster this week wrote to Reps. Brian M. Higgins, D-NY, and Don Young, R-Ak., asking the congressional leaders to launch the investigation to force the U.S. Department of Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense to acknowledge "the fact that Agent Orange and other herbicides were used on Guam."

"There are other veterans who have written to me asking for my sworn testimony to this fact," Foster stated in the lengthy letter, in which he identified the locations in Guam where he sprayed Agent Orange.

"I believe it is the responsibility of the VA, DoD, Congress, Senate, the White House, and the states to make public the exposure of our servicemen and servicewomen, dependents, residents of Guam and other civil service employees to these chemicals," Foster said.

He also listed names of fellow veterans who have died of cancers as a result of their hazardous duties performed at AAFB from 1960s to 1970s.

Higgins and Young cosponsored the Veteran's Right to Know bill in the 109th Congress, proposing the establishment of a commission that would look into the U.S. military's use of biological agents between 1962 and 1974, and their health effects on those exposed to the toxic chemicals. The 109th Congress, however, adjourned without acting on the bill.

Without an official venue to testify, veterans suffering from diseases as a result of their exposure to defoliants have been crying out for help, sending testimonies to veterans Web sites devoted to Agent Orange contamination, and writing open letters to whoever cares to listen to their pleas for medical assistance.

Guam commission
The 28th Guam Legislature created a local Right to Know Commission based on the congressional bill.

Speaker Mark Forbes, R-Sinajana, who authored the Guam bill, said the commission ―composed of lawmakers, health activists and other representatives from the private sector ― is getting ready to meet soon and gather pertinent testimony.

"This commission will provide the forum where people can testify and submit their testimony," Forbes said.

He said the commission would try to establish the extent to which Agent Orange was used on Guam and determine Guam residents' possible exposure to the chemicals, which the U.S. military used to kill weeds and thin jungles during the Vietnam War.

"It might take a while but we need to get the ball rolling on this issue. We need to start documenting these things," Forbes said, adding that his office will soon send out invitations to commission members.

The Department of Defense has never officially admitted to storing and using Agent Orange and other herbicides on Guam, despite Dow Chemical's earlier report which disclosed a huge amount of dioxin contamination at AAFB.

At least two successful applications for benefit claims filed by veterans deployed to Guam constituted VA's virtual acknowledgement of the use of defoliants on island.

In March this year, the VA approved the benefits claim filed by Robert L. Burgett, a Vietnam War veteran who developed cancer of the larynx, eventually causing his speech disability, as a result of his direct exposure to Agent Orange when he was stationed at AAFB between 1968 and 1969. He received a full grant of benefits.

In 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans ruled in favor of an unidentified airman who was determined to have developed diabetes mellitus as a result of his exposure to defoliants while he was deployed on duty at AAFB from December 1966 to October 1968.

Forbes said the favorable VA decisions obtained by the two veterans set a precedent that could be the commission's starting point.

"If one person's claim for benefits has been approved, then we can take it a step further to establish the fact that Agent Orange was used here," the speaker said. "We're definitely pushing forward with this."

Foster, meanwhile, acknowledges that his request for a congressional inquiry and the veterans' quest for justice and fair compensation might not come soon, but he maintains that the issue must be put forward for public discussion.

"I may not be alive to see the end of this but will give sworn testimony and give any other kind of evidence to our nation, to our state representatives who have the responsibility to defend those servicemen and servicewomen from their states who served with honor who are ill and suffering from past wars, and to the people of the United States of America who I know would demand our government do the right thing by and for our nation's veterans," he stated in his letter to Higgins and Young.

Sprayed areas
Foster has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and arterial disease, which he believes were caused by his direct exposure to the toxic defoliants.

When he was deployed on Guam, Foster's job was to prepare and spray herbicides at AAFB facilities, including fuel tank farms in Tumon Bay, NAS Agana, Tamuning and Yigo, and the cross country pipeline extending from Andersen AFB to NAS Agana and NAS Agana to the Naval Station Underground Fuel Storage facilities near the USO Club on the U.S. Naval base at Agana.

"I sprayed the security fence lines, completely encircling Andy I and II, hydrant storage buildings on the flight line around the flight line area at Andersen AFB, the Quality assurance and Liquid Oxygen buildings and Fuels Administrative offices located within the security fence area of Andy I Fuel Tank Farm," Foster said.

"Within these security fenced areas were storm drains that led directly into the water shed in the northern part of the island," he added.

Attached to Foster's letter to Higgins and Young is another note from a fellow veteran, Richard Spinale, who was stationed at AAFB, where he worked as a civil engineer from October 1966 to April 1968.

In a letter addressed "to whom it may concern," Spinale said he and other servicemen tasked to spray Agent Orange "were not aware that the chemical we were using as a weed killer was dioxin. We were not warned of contamination to our bodies."

"My duties included the maintenance of water pump stations, swimming pools, reservoirs, and deep water wells on Guam most of which were located off base in Guam. When I worked on the air strip, we were in charge of maintaining water pipes that ran across the field of the flight line, and maintenance of valves," Spinale wrote.

He said he also had to spray the foliage on the base to keep the air strip clean for take-off and returning flights.

"We also sprayed around the water pumps that were located off base for accessibility for maintenance and repair. After the spraying was completed, we waited a few days for the foliage to die and then we had to go in and clear the area of the dead foliage," he said.

The chemicals, he said, were stored in 55-gallon drums on the edge of the base. "Many of these barrels showed evidence of leaking and decay," he added.
Agent Orange was used from 1961 to 1971, and was by far the most used of the so-called "rainbow herbicides" utilized by the U.S. military for its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War.

According to chemical experts, degradation of Agent Orange, as well as Agents Purple, Pink and Green released dioxins, which have caused harm to the health of those exposed during the Vietnam War. Agents Blue and White were part of the same program but did not contain dioxins.

Studies of populations exposed to dioxin, though not necessarily Agent Orange, indicate increased risk of various types of cancer and genetic defects.

Since the 1980s, several lawsuits have been filed against the companies that produced Agent Orange, such as Dow Chemical and Diamond Shamrock.

Guam: Recruiter's Paradise

U.S. territories: A recruiter's paradise
Army goes where fish are biting
Three of the country's poorest territories lead U.S. in volunteering for military

By Matthew D. LaPlante
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated: 08/05/2007 12:21:44 AM MDT

Hundreds of additional recruiters are on duty. More latitude has been granted to pursue older recruits, high school dropouts, drug users and criminals. Enlistment bonuses are at all-time highs.

But hamstrung by an unpopular war in Iraq , Army recruiters nationwide have been treading water in their efforts to put new soldiers into uniform.

Still, for those who wear the eagle and torch insigne of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, the news is not all bleak. There are, in fact, some places where recruiting has never been better.

Those places just happen to be thousands of miles away from the mainland.

Between 2004 and 2006, enlistment into the Army by young men and women from three of the nation's poorest territories - American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands - more than doubled, according to military and census data compiled by the National Priorities Project.

The three territories, the combined population of which is about 315,000 residents, enlisted 333 new soldiers into the Army and Army Reserve in 2006. By comparison, the entire state of Utah - which has a population eight times greater and whose residents are among the top supporters of the war in Iraq - enlisted 498 new soldiers in the same year. (Army enlistment relative to youth population in Utah is among the lowest in the nation and has fallen 17 percent in the past three years, according to the project's data.)

Researchers say Utah 's unique religious make-up likely accounts for its low recruitment figures. Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints train and work as missionaries at a time when their non-Mormon peers are considering military service.

But there's another thing young men and women in Utah and other low-recruiting states have going for them that those in the poorer territories don't: Economic opportunity.

And that, said Anita Dancs, research director for the nonprofit project that collects the recruitment data each year, makes the territories prime hunting grounds for Army recruiters.

"It's very clear what is going on," Dancs said. "Because of the war in Iraq , the Army hasn't recruited as many youth as it needs, so it's becoming more aggressive, focusing on youth with limited economic opportunities."

And in no place on U.S.-occupied soil are opportunities more limited than in the three territories where recruiting currently is best. In Samoa, for instance, tuna canning is the main enterprise, per capita income is less than $5,000 and, one federal report recently noted, residents exist "on an economic tier similar to Botswana ."

Only about 3 percent of high school graduates from the island receive scholarships or financial assistance from the Samoan government to continue their education, according to government officials.

In that climate, Dancs said, military bonuses - Army officials say top candidates can walk away with more than $80,000 in recruitment incentives - can be difficult to pass up.

Dancs believes recruiters "are obviously trying to portray the Army as a place for economic advantages to youth who are going to be most vulnerable to that message."

U.S. military recruiters have always looked to areas of low economic opportunity to meet the needs of the armed services, said Bernard Rostker, author of I Want You: The Evolution of the All-Volunteer Force.

"Historically the military has gotten many more recruits from the South, for instance," Rostker said. "The Northeast has never been a good place to recruit, but the South always has been. . . . So the density of recruiters in the South is much higher than the density of recruiters in New York or Boston ."

While the relatively small populations of America 's poor territories aren't likely to make the South Pacific a "New Dixie" for recruiters, the military does appear to be maximizing its potential in those places.

The Army had nine recruiters in Guam last year - about one for every 4,000 recruiting-age residents on the island. In Utah , the ratio was 1-to-9,000 after falling dramatically between 2005 and 2006, a year in which the Army stationed more recruiters in the territories and most other states.

Rostker wasn't surprised. "You don't reinforce failure," he said. "You go where the fishing is good."

Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Fort Knox-based Army Recruiting Command, dismissed the notion that the high rates of enlistment in the poor territories are tied solely to the dismal economies of those areas, but acknowledged that financial opportunities do play a role in any recruit's decision to join up.

"There are a combination of factors playing out," Smith said. "But obviously in the areas that have a high unemployment rate or lack of opportunities, the military probably does better.

"It's good that the Army and other services offer a way for people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps."

At the moment, of course, those bootstraps are attached to combat boots. And service members from the territories have suffered grievously in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rate of death for American Samoan service members in the nation's ongoing wars is more than 10 times higher than the national average, according to Pentagon data. Guam and the Marianas also have death rates that, like their enlistment rates, are many times higher than any U.S. state.

Yet the number of Army recruits from Samoa nearly tripled between 2004 and 2006. And recruiters on the island appear to be making 2007 a banner year - even as the Navy, Air Force and Marines are all expanding their recruiting efforts on the island in response to the Army's successes. Still, Pataua Lavan said he doesn't feel exploited. And he doesn't believe the military is the only choice for young American Samoans, like himself, who are looking to begin a life off the island.

"But it's the option that I can see will benefit me the most," said Lavan, who was scheduled to fly to Honolulu this week to take the oath of enlistment.

Lavan's choice is a common one among his classmates. He estimated that about one in five students from his high school graduating class are enlisting in the military.

In Texas and California this week to visit Samoan and other Pacific Islander soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan , American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono said he was "deeply, deeply touched and impressed by the courage, dedication and patriotism of these young Americans and their families."

Tulafono, a Democrat whose own soldier daughter served a tour of duty in Iraq in 2004, said he continues to encourage young Samoans to enlist, even "in the face of war deployment and an unusually high number of American Samoan servicemen and women losing their lives, or seriously injured, from this unfortunate war."

Susing Alivia, a businessman in the Samoan capital of Pago Pago , said the island's struggling economy is not the only reason why its young men and women join up.

"This is part of our culture," Alivia told The Salt Lake Tribune last month, shortly after the death of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Faoa Apineru, who was born on the island and buried in Utah , where much of his family lives. "Many of our children look forward to serving in the military, not only because of the financial and economic opportunities, but because of who we are. We have suffered much and we are sad, but we are also proud."

Recruiter Lima Pula, who answered the phone at the Army's recruiting office in Pago Pago, said he'd like to discuss recent recruiting successes, but said he simply didn't have the time.

Pula said he was busy signing up another new soldier.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ancient Remains May Be Personally Transported

Ancient remains from Okura may be personally transported
by Michele Catahay, KUAM News
Thursday, August 09, 2007

The senior archeologist spearheading the Guam Hotel Okura project is looking at other options to have ancient remains get to the mainland for further analysis. Instead of sending them via registered mail, as his company, PHRI, had proposed, David Defant says there is a possibility that they may escort the remains themselves. Ancient artifacts to include 287 human remains were found on the site.

The hotel is currently spending over $30 million in renovations. Defant says remains have been sent off-island in the past, as recently as last year, via registered mail. "We had applied to ship the remains via United States Registered Mail, it has been suggested. It's an excellent suggestion that we instead escort the remains via Continental to the States and back, and that seems to be a reasonable request," he said.

Former senator and coalition leader Hope Cristobal is pushing to have projects in that area seize in order to protect the ancient burial grounds. Meanwhile, the Department of Parks and Recreation's Historical Resources Division contends that the hotel has continued to follow Guam law and has reported to them on a weekly basis.

Guam's Legacy Exerted

TO whom it may concern:

That "the inhabitants of Guam are hereby informed that in establishing a new political power, the authority of the United States will be exerted... that we may be "worthy citizens of the island of Guam, under the free flag of the United States."

Note to Maddie and Donna, darlings of D.C.: that was in 1899, proclaimed by Captain Richard Leary, USN, one of a succession of governors by presidential executive order who exercised ALL legislative, judicial, and executive authority over us when our homeland and our people were completely under the control of the Navy. General orders were issued, paving the way for the physical, intellectual, and emotional colonization of our people, as well as the natural resources of our homeland.

"In 1949, our Guam Congress staged a revolt and walked out of session, vowing not to return until their grievances were addressed, when then governor Captain Pownell refused to recognize their legislative and subpoena powers. Señot Carlos P. Taitano stated then that '... this kind of government is fit only for conquered peoples'."
It's 2007, ladies! I thought we are no longer under military domination, right? Or, are we still a conquered people?

Let me say it this way: you don't have to keep exerting your Washington political power on us, you know. You won't look so good for those photo-ops if you're stressed out. So sit back, relax, enjoy our sunshine, and hospitality. Go ahead and mingle with your other pals from D.C. and nonfriends of Guam. Don't forget to check behind every nook and cranny, yes, please make sure you leave no stone unturned — you need to make your report to the benevolent master show a balance between their gain and our complete annihilation. And then you can just... oops! I almost said bad words. Holy crap!

Yeah, it hurts a little that you don't want us "natives" to come to your party since you're on our turf and all. And there's this nagging sense you're all going to talk about us anyway. But then again, you so hate the putrid stench of exclusion, right, Maddie? So, we'll just see y'all outside, ok? We really need to be bad! Never let them rest!

Ñaton, Guahan (Harmon)
The Marianas Variety
August 9, 2007

A Crash and a Collision

Fighter jets collide during training mission
by Sabrina Salas Matanane ,
Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Two fighter jets collided while in mid-air Saturday evening over the Western Pacific Ocean. The jets were the F/A-18 Hornets assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron 146 and the Carrier Air Wing 9 aboard the USS John C. Stennis. The collision happened at approximately 8pm while the Hornets were conducting and air defense training mission.

The jets were able to continue flying after the collision and in fact landed safely at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo. The pilots are both reported to be in good condition. The Stennis group is transiting the Western Pacific to participate in the Valiant Shield exercises that begin today off of Guam's shores. The cause of the collision is currently under investigation.

Navy jet crashes into sea
Pilot ejects, is rescued 400 miles southeast of Guam
By Eric Palacios
Pacific Daily News
Article published Aug 1, 2007
The pilot of an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 195 is safe today after his jet crashed at sea Monday night during a training mission from USS Kitty Hawk, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The pilot ejected and was safely recovered by a U.S. Navy helicopter shortly after the incident, which occurred about 400 miles southeast of Guam.

"He was treated by medical professionals for injuries that were non-life threatening," the U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs Office said via telephone from Hawaii.

The aircraft was conducting routine training at the time of the crash, around 9 p.m., the 7th Fleet public affairs officer said.

The pilot's name is not being released and the Navy is conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. The F/A-18C is a single-seat fighter-and-attack aircraft. The squadron operates from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, and is embarked on Kitty Hawk.

The Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group is on its summer deployment in the western Pacific Ocean and is expected to take part in the upcoming Valiant Shield exercises with other U.S. forces and partners throughout Australia and Asia later this month.

The carrier made a port visit to Guam in June and is the U.S. Navy's lone overseas-based aircraft carrier. The carrier is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Kitty Hawk strike group is the U.S. Navy's largest and includes the carrier, seven ships of Destroyer Squadron 15, two Aegis weapons-system-equipped guided-missile cruisers and CVW 5, according to the Navy. $35M price tag

The jet that crashed at sea Monday night had an estimated $35 million price tag in 2003. The primary users of the jet are the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Spanish Air Force.

The jets are manufactured by McDonnell Douglas/Boeing Northrop and designed by McDonnell Douglas. They were first introduced Jan. 7, 1983, and 1,458 of the Hornets were built. Valiant Shield '06

In June 2006, the island and its waters played a major role in an impressive display of American power that was observed by a Chinese delegation.

Valiant Shield was the largest gathering of aircraft carriers in the Pacific since the Vietnam War.

The exercise brought together more than 20,000 personnel, three carriers, more than 20 ships and more than 200 aircraft.

The exercise also served as a diplomatic bridge between U.S. officials and the 10-member Chinese delegation of politicians and military commanders.

Guam has been key to the U.S. approach to dealing with China. The U.S. approach is centered on turning a potential foe into a friend.

Valiant Shield 2007

Valiant Shield 2007 Begins
By Trina A San Agustin
Variety News Staff
Tuesday 7 August 07

VALIANT Shield 2007, the largest naval war games in Guam waters, began yesterday.

Participating in this year’s event are over 20,000 U.S. military personnel and three carrier strike groups — the USS John Stennis, the USS Nimitz, and the conventionally powered carrier the USS Kitty Hawk.

Valiant Shield ends on Aug. 13.

U.S. Air Force personnel are said to have 60 fighters, bombers, air refuel tankers, as well as cargo planes.

The Valiant Shield series of exercises focuses on integrated joint training among U.S. military forces and enhances real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and in detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to the range of mission areas, according to the Valiant Shield 2007 Web site.

In addition to the field training exercises, staff training exercises will take place concurrently for the Joint Task Force. The task force consists of 519 staff and component staffs at their headquarters in Hawaii and San Diego, according to the Valiant Shield 2007 Web site.

The exercises will bring together Air Force and Navy personnel and their assets to “work through a range of war fighting skills such as maritime interdiction and command and control.”

“This exercise, the greatest concentration of naval and air power in the Western Pacific since the Vietnam War, demonstrates joint command, control and communications of U.S. forces while highlighting continued U.S. commitment to allies and friends of the region. We are also hosting observers from many nations, including China,” the Web site reads.

This is not the island’s first time to play host to a large exercise. Last summer, naval war games involved more than 22,000 U.S. military personnel, 30 ships, and 280 aircraft. Officials say the number of this year’s participants mirrors that of last year.

Because of this exercise, residents can expect more traffic on Guam roadways, an increase in retail shoppers, as well as increased foot traffic in Tumon as the participants of Valiant Shield may have several days off to visit the island.