JGPO: No secrets
But official admits to withholding information
Friday, 22 May 2009 03:19
by Jude Lizama
Variety News Staff
CAPTAIN Ulysses O. Zalamea, deputy director of the Joint Guam Program Office, admitted yesterday that there are components of the master plan for the military buildup that are being withheld from the public but he was quick to clarify that such decision has nothing to do with national security or secrecy.
“We have this massive plan that we are developing, as we are doing the environmental impact statement. We have not fully released the massive plan to the public,” Zalamea said during his presentation on “Guam Strategic Military Realignment Program Update” before the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort yesterday.
Zalamea said the JGPO has identified the items that have not been released to the public, but he stressed that “It’s not because of national security, but because our plan is not complete.”
He said JGPO wants to be cautious with releasing information but “not because we are keeping secrets.”
“If we release a plan that is not complete then we will lead the public to make wrong conclusions and wrong assumptions. We just want to make sure that whatever we release is accurate and correct. At this point, most of the things we’re doing are still in the planning stages,” Zalamea said.
JGPO’s “Guam Joint Military Master Plan” involves details of the relocation of Marines and their family members from Okinawa to Guam. It also provides for the establishment of a pier for transient [nuclear powered aircraft carriers], and the positioning of an Army Air and Missile Defense Task Force on Guam.
The plan is to continue to establish an intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance hub on island, and to continue other Department of Defense programs to improve force readiness and quality of life.
Over $1 billion is projected for fiscal year 2010 buildup.
“We want the community to understand what we are doing because if they don’t know what we are doing, they will be questioning our intent and purposes. If they are informed, then they can make better decisions for their lives,” Zalamea added.
“For us, it’s very important that the people of Guam are aware what we’re doing and what we’re planning to do. When the Marines show up, we’ll be part of the community. We want to be good neighbors,” he added.
Zalamea began his presentation by stating that “careful analysis of assets, capabilities and requirements,” helped the U.S. military to choose Guam as the “preferred location to relocate Marines from Japan.”
GHRA members also listened to Zalamea’s emphasis on the island’s strategic importance.
“It would take a ship from San Diego traveling at 16kn [knots], 16 days to get to Taiwan, from Hawaii, 12 days, But from Guam, only four days,” he said.
“It would take a C-17 aircraft 13 hours to fly from the west coast to Taiwan, from Hawaii, almost eight hours, but from Guam, three hours and 20 minutes. The strategic location of Guam is very important,” he added.
The island is less than 2,000 nautical miles from locations like Seoul, Korea; Manila, Philippines and Taiwan, whereas it would take approximately 3,778NM to reach Seoul from Alaska, and 5,682NM to reach Japan from San Diego.
By 2014, JGPO forecasts a dramatic increase in active duty members and their dependents from 14,000 to 38,000.
New influxes of active duty members will come by way of 8,000 Marines, a U.S. Army Battalion consisting of 630 AD members, and 240 AD members from the U.S. Coast Guard. A combined total of 10,130 Marines, Army and USCG dependents will add to the island’s population.
“We have monthly meetings with the governor. We brief the senators on a regular basis. We talk to the mayors on a regular basis. On our plan, we are doing something to reach out to the government of Guam and the community in general,” said Zalamea on JGPO’s community outreach efforts.
“I think it has produced a good healthy dialogue, especially with the mayors because they are in touch with what’s going on with the community. They have given us advice on how to proceed. For me, that has been the most beneficial,” he added.