Sunday, September 23, 2007

GAO Report

JGPO official felt federal report was fair
by Sabrina Salas Matanane, KUAM News
Sunday, September 23, 2007

The head of the Forward Joint Guam Program Office, Captain Robert Lee, feels the General Accountability Office report was a thorough review of the process to inform the community of the goings-on of moving troops from Okinawa thus far. "If you look at the report," said the naval officer, "It did a good investigation of everything's that's happening today, and then they suggested a few things comments needs to report more to Congress. Well, if you look into the actual paragraph it just stated that we understand there's not a lot done yet, the planning is just beginning, but they suggest that as we get information we do communicate more with Congress."

In terms of his response to KUAM's report on the critically endangered Okinawan Dugong and litigation that was filed in a federal court in California against defense secretary Robert Gates, Cpt. Lee said he was not aware of the specifics of the lawsuit. As we reported, several conservation groups are suing the defense secretary for violating the National Historic Preservation Act, which protects the dugongs. The prime habitat in which they live is located where the Futenma Replacement Facility is to be constructed.

According to the GAO report, any delays with the replacement facility in Okinawa could delay the relocation of U.S. Marines to Guam. Said Lee, "In general there are things that have to happen in Okinawa for this move to happen here on Guam and the Futenma Replacement Facility. That's one of the keys that has to happen in Okinawa, to make sure the rest of this move goes in place. If you look at domino effect, there are certain things that have to happen on both sides of the fence here - as one starts to fall in Japan then one starts to fall on Guam, and we just kind of go in order, but it's tied-in.

"I mentioned before that it's a $10 billion move here; it's $30 billion in Japan, and they're all tied into each other and with all this money and all this movement. Remember, there's one base over here and you're talking five or six bases in Japan. There's a lot of interaction and we're working closely in federal government levels and military levels to make sure we stay in synch."

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