Guam designated strategic seaport
By Agnes E. Donato
Pacific Sunday News
September 20, 2009
As a result, the Department of Defense will include the use of the island's port facilities in its planning for cargo movement during times of military deployments.
While the designation doesn't guarantee federal funding for port projects, it does underscore the need for funding for infrastructure improvement, according to Gen. Duncan McNabb, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command.
"A modernized port will provide additional deployment options for our forces forward and greater flexibility to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the Pacific theater," McNabb wrote in a Sept. 17 memorandum to key military officials. McNabb also asked the Department of Transportation consider Guam's expanding military role as it weighs grants and economic stimulus funding for critical transportation projects.
The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command made the decision two weeks after McNabb toured the Port of Guam, a news release from the office of Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said yesterday. "Our community will benefit from the strategic port designation," Bordallo said in the release. "The military buildup will increase the volume of traffic at the port and resources will be needed to help the port meet future demand.... This designation will help the port to receive federal funding to modernize port infrastructure and cargo handling."
Monte Mesa, chairman of the port's board of directors, called the designation "a very good validation of our port master plan."
"It highlights the critical need for our port to be developed to a modern, world-class standards," said Mesa.
Gov. Felix Camacho also welcomed the military's decision.
"The recognition of our island's only port as a strategic designation brings great economic opportunities and benefits for Guam," Camacho said in a release. "This acknowledgment will help strengthen the administration, and port management's efforts when applying for funding that will modernize and expand the port in order to prepare it for the military buildup."
About 8,000 Marines, plus about 9,000 of their dependents, are expected to transfer to Guam from Okinawa, Japan, by 2014.