U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) has attended a hearing this week on the military buildup on Guam, and the impact on the civilian community, planning, and response, in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction over U.S. territories such as Guam.
His opening statement follows:
Thank you Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Domenici for holding this hearing. I see that we are also joined by my former colleague, Congressman Ben Blaz of Guam, Aloha Ben.
I welcome our witnesses, especially those that have traveled a great distance to testify today. I look forward to receiving your testimony as the Committee explores the impact that the DOD’s plans for an increased military presence will have on the population Guam. I also look forward to the opportunity to discuss the planning and resources needs of the civilian community in preparation and response to the build-up.
It is my understanding that while the Department of Defense has established a broad framework for military build-up on Guam, the DoD continues their planning process including a the preparation of the of a Join Guam Joint Military Master Plan which I understand is still in the DOD review process. Similarly, I know that the Government of Guam is still in the initial stages of addressing the many infrastructure challenges associated with the military build-up. I want to congratulate you for the work you have all done thus far. I know this process poses many inherent challenges and unexpected difficulties and you are to be commended for your efforts.
As we move forward, it is crucial that DoD and other federal agencies continue to work in close coordination with one another and Guam's local government. In particular, it is vitally important that each entity and contributing partner share a collective understanding based on accurate and timely information with respect not only to the military’s but also the community’s needs. Only by working collaboratively will we truly be able to plan accordingly including ensuring that federal resources are appropriately allocated to this undertaking.
I also want to take this opportunity to express my support of H.R. 1595, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act, which passed in the House and is currently pending before the Senate Committee on Judiciary. The people of Guam deserve no less than to be recognized for the loyalty and courage they displayed during the World War II occupation of Guam by the Japanese.
Once again, thank you to the witnesses for appearing before us today.