Wednesday, February 10, 2010

US president confirms Guam visit in March

US president confirms Guam visit in March

February 3, 2010 09:18:09

In yesterday's program we confirmed that the US president, Barack Obama, will be visiting Guam in March, where it is understood he will use the trip to discuss the proposal that the US military build-up be delayed.

The time frame for the relocation of about 8,000 marines and their families from Okinawa in Japan has already been upset by the election of a new government in Japan and more recently local elections in Okinawa.

Presenter: Helene Hofman, with reporting by Australia Network's Pacific correspondent Sean Dorney

Speaker: Shawn Gumataotao, Guam governor's spokesman; Captain Neil Ruggiero from the Joint Guam Program Office; Paul Shintaku is the director of the Joint Guam Buildup Office

Listen: Windows Media

HOFMAN: The massive military buildup on Guam was originally scheduled to start this year. The planned influx of servicemen and their dependants would have seen the population of Guam jump by 27 per cent in just five years. The Guam governor's spokesman, Shawn Gumataotao, told Pacific Beat yesterday the government on Guam is now saying that's too fast

GUMATAOTAO: The Governor has recognised that the 2014 deadline would be too much for the people of Guam to bear. Basically taking 20 years of growth and shoving it into five years, we all believed that was unrealistic.

HOFMAN: Captain Neil Ruggiero from the Joint Guam Program Office said in October 2009 that the marines are going to housed in a new base that is yet to be built.

RUGGIERO: Everything from the ground up. New piers here at the Naval Base. That's to support the amphibious ships, barracks for the troops, houses for the family members, quality of life facilities like gyms and baseball fields and everything that goes into building a small town.

HOFMAN: The scale of the operation and the short time frame had local officials worried. Paul Shintaku is the director of the Joint Guam Buildup Office.

SHINTAKU: The biggest challenge is to address the road conditions, the overall how do we mitigate the cogestion, the explosion in population.

HOFMAN: There has been some criticism on Guam that the Governor has, to now, ignored local opposition to the massive military buildup. Shawn Gumataotao says they are listening.

GUMATAOTAO: Despite some of the rhetoric from the local Senators the people of Guam generally are in support of the Guam buildup and we're very excited about what the next ten years holds for us and for the whole region as well.

HOFMAN: The American President will be seeing for himself when he visits Guam in March.

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