Thursday, September 08, 2011

Air Force Official Visits Guam, But Snubs Leaders


LOCAL leaders weren’t notified about a visit U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley made last month to Andersen Air
Force Base for an Airmen’s Call.

Donley was touring the Pacific region to reconnect and thank Airmen serving in the area, according to an article posted on the USAF website. He was on Guam Aug. 29.

The apparent snub has caused frustration among local leaders, particularly Senator Judi Guthertz.

“We’ve repeatedly emphasized the need for harmonious relationships between the Guam civilian community and all branches of the military operating in Guam as the buildup and related work goes forward,” Guthertz said. “This insensitive handling of the visit by Secretary Donley doesn’t help matters.”

Guthertz said she was disappointed with the protocol and general handling of the visit, and hopes 36th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. John Doucette will reconsider the relationship between the base and the civilian community in light of this.

In the article, Donley was quoted as saying, “As the farthest western piece of sovereign territory in the U.S., Guam is critically important to the United States. This is a great wing, and it plays a very important role in this region, and for our nation and our Air Force.”

Apart from encouraging the men and women in uniform and applauding their efforts, Donley also spoke in-depth about the ongoing and future challenges the Air Force faces in light of the “expected reductions” in the Department of Defense budget.

Donley said: “We're in a time of great financial volatility and fiscal crisis at home. The need to get our fiscal 'house' in order has become a national priority. In the last couple of years, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen identified the national debt as the single biggest threat to our national security.”

According to the Air Force public affairs office, a response to Guthertz from Secretary Donley’s office is forthcoming.
Donley also reportedly visited Singapore and Australia in the following days.

Meanwhile, Guthertz, chairperson of the Committee on the Guam Military Buildup, questioned the leadership of the new Joint Guam Program Office director, Capt. Daniel Cuff, who replaced Col. John Jackson, (USMC Ret) in June. Guthertz has yet to meet the new director and wondered if policies have shifted in dealing with the Guam community.

“Director Cuff is most welcome to visit my office at any time to share views on the status of the buildup,” Guthertz added.

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