Thursday, February 11, 2010

2011 buildup spending pegged at $1.3B

2011 buildup spending pegged at $1.3B

Guam Delegate Bordallo emphasizes her position against forced land acquisition for the buildup

By Amritha Alladi • Pacific Daily News • February 5, 2010

President Obama has proposed $566 million for military construction projects on Guam as part of his fiscal 2011 defense spending budget.

But that's only a portion of the money set aside for Guam, according to Guam Department of Labor chief economist Gary Hiles, who said the Defense Department's draft Environmental Impact Statement has cited an overall assumed value of military contracts for 2011 is over $1.3 billion, including Japan's share of costs.

"It should be noted that there are other sources of funds for the buildup plans including Japan government appropriations and non-appropriated Japan financing. There also could be projects funded from other defense budgets so U.S. (military contract) appropriations do not provide the entire picture for Guam construction," Hiles said.

'Fact-finding team'

This, just as Japan plans to send a "fact-finding team" to Guam on Feb. 10 as part of a mission by Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to compile a list of possible relocation sites for the Marine Corps Futenma Air station, the Stars and Stripes reported yesterday.

The relocation of the base to northern Okinawa is part of a 2006 agreement between Japan and the United States, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in October he didn't see the Guam buildup materializing unless Japan and the United States come to an agreement on the Futenma issue.

Since he was elected last year, Hatoyama has been seesawing between going forward with the current relocation plan to move Futenma to northern Okinawa, or to opt for an alternate site -- possibly Guam-- by the end of May.

But whether Guam will receive more than the 8,000 Marines already scheduled to arrive by 2014 is only one of several looming concerns Guam residents have regarding the buildup.

Eminent domain

On Wednesday, Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo reiterated to leaders in Washington, D.C., her position against the use eminent of domain for acquisition of non-Defense Department lands for military buildup projects on Guam, a release from her office stated.

Bordallo, during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fiscal 2011 defense budget, addressed Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She suggested they look into building within their existing land on Guam.

Bordallo also shared concerns raised by members of the community at recent town hall meetings regarding the Defense Department's draft Environmental Impact Statement--specifically the aircraft carrier berthing and the potential damage to coral reefs during the dredging process, according to the release.

Gates, according to Bordallo, responded the Department of Defense would work with Guam stakeholders to "have transparency and for (Department of Defense) to take into account the views of the people of Guam," according to the release. Bordallo stated that Mullen and Gates agreed the buildup must be done right.

Army fast ships

Speaking in response to media reports that Guam may also see an increased military presence by way of a dozen Army fast ships that can carry about 300 troops per ship, Sen. Judith Guthertz yesterday raised several questions, among them: when the addition of these forces would occur, where they would be sited and why this project wasn't included within the Defense Department's document that Guam residents are currently reviewing.

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