Thursday, February 07, 2008

Guam Industry Forum II

Master plan, Guam Industry Forum II on track
by Clynt Ridgell
Thursday, February 07, 2008

Joint Guam Program Office director David Bice is back on island. And part of his itinerary being a trip here to our Harmon studios, during which time he gave an update on the Guam Military Master Plan, the Guam Industry Forum, and the potential affects of the U.S. courts decision on the Futenma Replacement Facility in Okinawa.

Bice says the draft military master plan for Guam, one of the most eagerly anticipated documents in recent history, should be completed by next month. "We expect the draft master plan to be completed and released in March timeframe," he confirmed. Coincidentally at that time will be the second Guam Industry Forum. The retired Marine Corps major general says there are already 800 people registered for this forum that takes place on the 6th, 7th and 8th of March.

Last year's forum lasted only two days, but this year there will be an extra day to allow businesses to have one on one time with members of the Naval Engineering Facilities Command. "[The] last time a lot of businesses asked if they could have a chance to have one-on-one's with contracting agencies, and NAVFAC, and they've asked also to be able to meet with me and my staff," he continued.

Bice expects this year's forum to be even bigger and better than the previous event, saying, "Last year we had two hotels and we have a third hotel on standby that we can bring that into."

He's currently meeting with Government of Guam planners and utility officials to figure out ways to address ways the island can increase the capacity of it's infrastructure to meet the demands of the military buildup. JGPO is also currently narrowing their preferred alternatives for land use, Bice adding, "We want to start sitting down with Tony Lamorena at the planning department and talk about compatible land use so that the military activities don't spill onto the civilian community and vice-versa."

Bice also spoke about the status of the Futenma Replacement Facility in Japan. A federal judge ordered the Department of Defense to submit within three months documents describing its plans to assess the project's effects on the dugong and develop ways to lessen its impact. Bice says that both the DOD legal team and Japanese officials are working on complying with the court, adding that the land of the riding [sic] sun is conducting its own environmental impact assessment that may satisfy the U.S. court.

Although he admits that there is a direct connection between the construction of the Futenma facility and the movement of U.S. Marines to Guam, Bice doesn't believe that this will slow the movement of troops locally. Said Bice, "I know that the government of Japan is committed to ensuring that the FRF is constructed in a timeline that is agreed to so that the movement of marines from Okinawa to Guam can continue without delay or disruption."

The U.S. General Accountability Office describes the Futenma facility as a "critical component", one which could delay the troop relocation.

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