Sunday, May 18, 2008

Military Dog and Pony Show

Military buildup "dog and pony show"
From the Marianas Variety

Last Wednesday, the military Joint Guam Program Office visited our Dededo village to "announce" that the decision for the military buildup on Guam is on track, and the island would reap significant economic benefits.

As we all know, Guam is primarily a "wage economy" dependent on two basic economic industries, i.e. tourism and military. Neither of these two are relatively stable. They are greatly volatile and Guam has learned from past experiences that both are sensitive to global circumstances, and are subject to change dramatically at a moment's notice.

During the JGPO meeting, residents expressed serious concerns regarding the forthcoming military buildup, including the following:

* There will be an immediate population growth in the municipalities of Dededo and Yigo, exceeding over 100,000 people;

* Concerns with the impact of such on the northern water lens;

* Employment opportunities would appear to benefit local US citizens, but, it was rather vague as to how to make these opportunities really become real;

* Access to the shorelines, once the military occupies and encompasses the land areas, from Wettengel to Potts junctions, with planned movement of the Andersen Gate near the Santa Ann subdivision. A Marine Colonel responded with an assurance that "complete access" would be provided. However, a local resident responded that his family was constantly being subjected to Andersen AF whims with regard to their property in Ridtidan, despite a court order giving them unrestricted access. The resident therefore quite openly and candidly expressed "distrust" with historical military pronouncements, not being able to honor their commitments; and
* It was conceded that the Environment Impact Statement would not be completed until the late 2010, and only then will the overall so-called Master Plan can be finalized;

* Senator Tony Lamorena acknowledged that the Government of Guam is working closely with the military on the "few and sporadic military information" provided to them, and expressed concerns with the impact on the "quality of life" on the island's growing population. He indicated that once the government "deals with the many uncertainties," the government of Guam would then go thru the "same dog and pony show" with the local communities.

Additionally, no one mentions the fact that the most recent GAO publication dated May 1, 2008 entitled "Defense Infrastructure- Planning Efforts for the Proposed Military Buildup on Guam Are In Their Initial Stages, with Many Challengers Yet to be Addressed," indicated among other things that "the exact size and makeup of the forces to move to Guam and the operational, housing, and installation support facilities required are not yet fully known."

Joe T. San Agustin

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