Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Stretch out, spread out

Stretch out, spread out

Friday, 29 January 2010 00:52
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan | Variety News Staff

Guthertz wants troop number cut by 50%

CUT the size of troop movement by 50 percent. Send some of the Marine aviation command to Tinian. And stretch out the process over eight years.

These sum up the “stretch out and spread out” strategy proposed by Sen. Judi Guthertz as an alternative to the existing plan that reveals complications and draws objections from the community.

Guthertz, chairman of the legislative committee on military buildup, described her proposed plan as “a win-win practical solution to various issues that exists.”

Under the agreement between the United States and Japan, over 8,000 Marines would be relocated from Okinawa to Guam, a plan on which the draft environmental impact statement is premised.

The plan, however, is in limbo because of Japan’s unpredictable mood.

“It is becoming more and more apparent among the people of Guam that the proposed buildup is far too many and far too soon and is coming too quickly,” Guthertz said. “We all need to think out of the box to accommodate the core interests of the parties involved.”

In her official comment on the draft impact report, Guthertz proposes that the number of Marines to be relocated to Guam be reduced to 4,000. The relocation process must be completed over eight years instead of two.

“In this case,” Guthertz said, “the solution would be a three-way win for America, for Japan and for Guam.”

She also proposes that the First Marine Aircraft Wing Aviation Command from Futenma be sent to Tinian and Aguigian, which were both offered by Tinian mayor Ramon dela Cruz as alterative sites for the troops.

Aguigian, also known as Goat Island, is an uninhabited isle 5 miles west of Tinian, which used to host a Japanese garrison during World War II.

Guthertz said the existing relocation plan is not consistent with a 1980 policy decision made the Commander Pacific Command, which capped the military expansion on Guam at 10 percent, acknowledging that the local infrastructure could not absorb anything beyond that set limit.

“This new footprint is not even 10 percent; it’s not event 50 percent. It is a whooping 321 percent increase, more than three times the current number,” Guthertz stated in the official comment submitted to Major General David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program office.

“In considering this plan and in any discussions concerning the buildup,” Guthertz said, “the people of Guam must have a voice at the table.”

The growing activism in Japan that rolls over to elected public offices seems to pose a barrier to the implementation of the 2006 agreement.

On Tuesday, however, a top U.S. military commander in the Pacific expressed confidence that election of a mayor, who opposes the relocation of U.S. air field to Nago City, won’t pose a setback to bilateral agreement to relocate the base.

On Sunday, voters in the town of Nago on Okinawa elected base opponent Susumu Inamine as mayor over incumbent Yoshikazu Shimabukuro. Inamine had campaigned against any expansion of U.S. military presence in the area and won with 52.3 percent of the vote.

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