Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hopes, concerns over US military build up in Guam

Hopes, concerns over US military build up in Guam

Sean Dorney, Guam

Last Updated: 21 hours 2 seconds ago

The business community on Guam is nervous about the possibility that the new government in Japan may try to change the agreement relating to America's proposed massive military build up on the island.

Under the 2006, deal brokered with the previous government, Japan would contribute billions of dollars to the relocation of 8,000 marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam.

"It is a huge operation...it's a ten billion dollar program with six billion dollars coming from the government of Japan and the remainder coming from the US government," said Captain Neil Ruggiero, a public affairs officer at the joint Guam program office.

Guam's government is excited by the prospect, but is wondering how it is going to cope.

Guam's business community, however, is less concerned and has been hosting a series of visits by foreign businessmen.

"There has been a couple of delegations from Australia that have come to the island looking at the opportunities, so the opportunities, the opportunities are huge," said Frank Campillo, chairman of Guam's Chamber of Commerce.

Apart from the concern over the new Japanese Government's commitment, there's an environmental issue to be resolved.

The proposed marine base is last remaining native habitat for a threatened bird species.

"There are two Marianas Crows left...they're two males, unfortunately, and we call the Heckel and Jeckelm," said Captain Neil Ruggiero.

"But by law we have to preserve the habitat where, if these species were going to be reintroduced in the future, you know, this is where they'd be reintroduced."

Under current planning, this massive military build-up will begin next year.

The United States already has a signifcant military presence in Guam, with large air and naval bases.

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