Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Navy Water Increased Halted

Navy's water increase halted
by John Davis, KUAM News
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Consolidated Commission on Utilities received word Tuesday night of a temporary moratorium on the Navy's 100% rate increase to the Guam Waterworks Authority for water from Fena. The hike went into effect on October 1, despite opposition from GWA, the CCU, local elected leaders and Guam congressional delegate Madeleine Bordallo.

The Navy doubled the amount it charges GWA for water up from $2.09 to $4.95 per thousand gallons. CCU chairperson Simon Sanchez was one of many who said the increase was unjustified, telling KUAM News, "I received a call from Captain Paul Fuligni and then his number two, a Commander Tomea, and he says that it has reached Washington, DC and they will not bill us as of now for the higher amount until it is determined by the Navy upstream whether these are appropriate."

The Guam Waterworks Authority reported at last night's meeting that the utility agency could operate the Fena Water Treatment Plant for the same price the federal government was charging before the rate increase. Figures given to GWA from the Navy show that the Navy operates the Fena plant for $13 million a year, inclusive of the cost to outsource their operations and recover prior year losses. Sanchez says GWA could produce and distribute water to the navy and its customers for almost half that amount, noting "There's a $7 million difference per year in our view for what it would take to run the new Fena, versus what they want to charge us."

The CCU in the meantime will be approaching the Navy to see if they would agree to a non-binding independent review by the Guam Public Utilities Commission.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tip of the Spear

Check out this video titled "Tip of the Spear." I would embed it but unfortunately the maker doesn't allow that. Just click on the link above, to get a very inside view of the military on Guam.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tinian Soldier Killed in Bahrain

Mother of slain sailor says she has forgiven shooter
By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff
October 25, 2007

THE mother of the sailor from Tinian who was slain at an American military base in the Arab nation of Bahrain on Monday says she has forgiven her daughter’s assailant but seeks justice for her daughter.

“I am trying to understand the situation” said Jovita Paulino, a teacher at Tinian Jr. and High School “I pray for this man that he gets better. I don’t take justice unto my own hands. I am a Christian and Christians are forgiving.”

She added, “(The assailant) knows what he did and that’s between him and God. God will be the ultimate judge.”

Her daughter, Navy Seaman Anamarie San Nicolas Camacho, 20, and Navy Seaman Genesia M. Gresham, 19, of Lithonia, Georgia, were shot in a barracks at the military base around 5 a.m. on Oct. 22.

Authorities suspect that the shooter might have been jealous.

The other victim was his ex-girlfriend.

Paulino said the “closeness” between the two victims may have been misunderstood.
“Wait for the truth. Who knows about my daughter other than me? It’s not like that,” she said.

The male sailor remains in critical condition after shooting himself.
Camacho entered the U.S. Navy a year ago and was assigned to the 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

Her mother said the young sailor, who is described by Tinian community members as “smart” and determined, was a defender of those who were aggrieved.

“My daughter was a person who cared about people. She would fight for you. She was an individual who would not let anyone trample on you. She would defend you if people belittled you,” she said.

She said her daughter had always wanted to join the armed forces and dreamt of contributing her talents to promote the ideals of the United States — freedom and justice.

Her remains are expected to be flown to the Northern Marianas next week.
The U.S. Navy continues to investigate the incident.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not Enough Filipino Labor for Guam

Not enough RP workers for Guam
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
October 23, 2007

Guam construction companies have always assumed that they can depend on foreign labor from the Philippines when the military buildup starts in earnest.
Now, that is not so certain anymore.

The Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc., which groups the biggest private employment agencies in the Philippines, has warned that there may not be enough skilled Filipino workers to go around because a lot of them are already deployed in the oil-rich nations of the Middle East.

PASEI president Vic Fernandez, who was recently on Guam to attend the business conference sponsored by the Department of the Interior, said most of the sufficiently skilled workers are already deployed to the Middle East where there is a construction boom at present.

However, Fernandez was quoted by the Philippine Web site OFW Balita as saying that the opportunities presented by the Guam military buildup are too good for Filipino workers to pass up.

“The U.S. bases in Okinawa, Japan will be transferred to Guam by 2010 since their treaty with Japan will be finished. As a result, Guam will need about 50,000 construction workers in a span of three to five years. However, the potential deployment may not be achieved because we do not have sufficient number of skilled workers,” Fernandez said during a forum in Manila.

Fernandez has urged the Philippine government to conduct massive training for tradesmen, such as plumbers, electricians, and others.

“This problem has to be met by both the recruitment agencies and the government. We can deploy more if we have more training for tradesmen,” the PASEI president said.

He pointed out that Filipino workers would be working under American labor laws since Guam is a U.S. territory and an ordinary construction worker alone would be earning at least $1,200 a month.

According to Fernandez, representatives of the Guam Economic Development and Commerce Agency are already establishing contacts with Philippine recruitment agencies for the possible deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Guam.
PASEI has more than 650 agencies licensed by the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment.

Along with increased membership, PASEI had also taken a leadership role in the Philippine overseas employment industry.

NZ Happy to "Invade" Guam

NZ happy with Guam business conference
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
October 24, 2007

New Zealand has benefited greatly from the recently concluded business conference held on Guam, according to a dispatch from NZ minister Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, who led the NZ delegation.

Twenty-one New Zealand companies have opened up doors for new business opportunities in Guam after the successful trade mission, said Laban who serves as her country’s Associate Economic Development and Pacific Island Affairs Minister.

“The focus of the trade mission was for our companies to explore new opportunities in the construction, building materials, machinery supplies and consultancy sectors in the Pacific,” Laban said in a news release.

She added that New Zealand made a positive impression and the delegation received detailed briefings of new commercial opportunities expected to be created when around 25,000 United States military staff and dependents move from Okinawa to Guam.

“The expansion of naval and air force facilities on the island over the next decade is expected to have a budget of between $14 and $18 billion. This presents some significant opportunities for New Zealand firms in the future,” Laban said.

During the Guam conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the New Zealand delegation was also able to learn first hand of the potential opportunities from ongoing infrastructure development in Micronesia and the American Pacific.
“One firm signed a deal for new business during the mission, while several more are now actively pursuing specific opportunities created by the visit,” Laban disclosed.

After a meeting with the U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Cohen, the governors of Guam, Micronesia and American Samoa all expressed strong interest in coming to the New Zealand Pacific Business Council’s Pacific Trade Expo to be held in Auckland next year.

“They will bring business delegations with them to explore business opportunities with New Zealand. I am pleased that this trade mission has resulted in two-way trade opportunities with New Zealand for Guam and Micronesia,” said Laban.

The New Zealand delegation attended the U.S. Department of the Interior’s annual Island Business Opportunities Conference held at the Hyatt Regency in Guam, where leaders of island nations with formal ties with the U.S. presented upcoming business opportunities in the region.

Laban, who was one of the speakers during the conference, stressed the importance of the Pacific region working together to enhance economic sustainability and two-way trade deals that bring mutual benefits to all parties.

“The Pacific region has close cultural and familial ties. New Zealand is seen as part of the wider Pacific family and region. This successful trade mission was a part of the ongoing private and public sector initiatives occurring through the Labor-led government’s Export Year 2007,” Laban said.

She added that the New Zealand government is committed to support its exporters grow and be successful through initiatives like trade missions.

“This support is important if we are to transform New Zealand into a high-wage, innovative and export-led economy,” said Laban.

The trade mission was organized by the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the NZPBC.

Gilbert Ullrich, president of the NZPBC, said there’s huge potential for New Zealand businesses to tap into the contracts that will come out of the relocation of U.S. troops to Guam in the near future.

“The increased dialogue and expansion of business between our country and the Pacific area can only lead to greater opportunities into the U.S.,” Ullrich said.
New Zealand companies in the construction and supply fields are especially interested in the military buildup on Guam.

There are also many opportunities for New Zealand exporters, especially in the perishable food business, because of New Zealand’s proximity to Guam.

Guard Called Up

Guard called up
180 soldiers ordered to Afghanistan
By Stephanie Godlewski
Pacific Daily News

More of Guam's sons and daughters will be deployed to fight the global War on Terror, according to the Guam Army National Guard.

The Guard announced yesterday that 180 Guard members of the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry and the battalion's Forward Support Company will be deployed to Afghanistan by early next year.

The unit is being sent to the Middle East to provide security for other units in the area, according to a press release sent by the guard.

This is not the first time the unit has been deployed. Its soldiers were sent to the Horn of Africa previously.
During the coming months, the unit will be mobilizing and training on Guam before heading off island. The mobilization and deployment together will be about a year for the soldiers.

The Guard members are being sent to support Operation Enduring Freedom and the War on Terror, but they will be put through three months of mobilization and training before heading to Afghanistan.

During the months of November and December, the unit will be receiving about six weeks of pre- and post-mobilization training, according to the Guard.

By January 2008, the unit will head to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii for additional training before heading out to the Middle East in February.

The unit was deployed to the Horn of Africa in April 2004 and returned in July of the following year.

Since the war on terror began in 2001, Guam and its Pacific island neighbors have seen hundreds of their sons and daughters deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

To date, 24 sons of Micronesia are among those who have been killed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Military Contractors to Tap Guam's Labor Pool

Military contractors seek to tap Guam’s labor pool
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
October 22, 2007

Military contractors will start tapping the local labor pool as they gear up for a major construction boom sprouting from military buildup on Guam in the coming years.
Job-seekers, who have expertise in construction work and related fields, will have the chance to meet with potential employers during the Career/Job Fair to be held at the University of Guam Fieldhouse on Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hundreds of job opportunities will be offered by 35 companies participating in the job fair organized by the UOG Career Development Office.

“This is the first time that we have military contractors joining our event, and we are very excited to have them this year,” said Leah Beth Naholowaa, director of the UOG Career Development Office.

The $15-billion military expansion plan, which involves the transfer of 8,000 Marines and their 10,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam, entails the construction of new housing units, road infrastructure, power plants, water treatment facilities and new schools among others.

Navy officials last week told the Guam Contractors Association that the amount of construction projects could reach about $530 million in the next fiscal year and the coming years. Construction companies will need approximately 50,000 construction workers in a span of three to five years.

The $100 million expansion of Kilo Wharf is the biggest project that the military began undertaking this year.

Joining the military contractors at the fair are regular local companies hunting for candidates to fill various positions.

“We are expecting thousands of participants to join as holiday season is coming up and a lot of our students and alumni as well as the public are looking for a part-time as the holiday season is coming up,” Naholowaa said.

The UOG Career Development Office organizes a job fair every semester as part of its mission to assist students and alumni toward their foray into the workforce. It guides jobseekers in finding self-direction and developing personal responsibility in the career decision making and the job search process.

“We hope that the public will take advantage of this opportunity,” Naholowaa said. “I would like to encourage applicants to come as if they are going to be interviewed.”

She advises job applicants to “dress appropriately, bring several copies of their resume and most importantly bring their positive attitude.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

Senator Unpingco Passes Away

State of mourning
'He was the finest person I've ever known'
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

Gov. Felix Camacho yesterday declared a state of mourning for Republican Sen. Antonio "Tony" Unpingco, who died unexpectedly at Guam Memorial Hospital Thursday evening at the age of 65.

U.S. and Guam flags are to be flown at half-staff until Unpingco is buried.

Lawmakers are consulting with Unpingco's family to determine the date of Unpingco's state funeral, said acting Speaker Eddie Calvo, who was Unpingco's running mate in the 2002 gubernatorial race.

"He's absolutely going to be missed. You can't find people like this anymore," said former Lt. Gov. Kurt Moylan, who worked with Unpingco during his administration and later in the Guam Legislature.
Moylan said Gov. Carlos Camacho gave Unpingco a job as a liaison in San Francisco, where for two years he recruited and encouraged educated people from Guam to return to the island to work in the local government.

Unpingco later was given a job as deputy director of the Department of Administration, Moylan said.

"I can only say this about him -- I know he was the finest person I've ever known, the most trusted and honest. Frankly, I loved him like a brother. ... I just can't believe he's gone," Moylan said.

Calvo said he is deeply saddened by Unpingco's death, and described him as a friend, colleague and mentor.

"I think the island has lost a great leader. He set an example for how to serve as a public servant, a true public servant, and he set examples of what a citizen of Guam should be," Calvo said. "The man loved his God, loved his family, and he worked to the last day. I mean, he went straight from session hall to the hospital. That's the epitome of a true public servant."

Democratic minority leader Sen. Judith Won Pat said, "I will definitely miss the man," adding that the Legislature will miss his experience and guidance.

"To me, he is the most gentle person. He's so soft-spoken. I've never seen him -- even at times in the 23rd (Legislature) when things were really bad -- he's never raised his voice," Won Pat said. "He's always been the peacemaker. He's able to get us to come together, and we've had great respect for him. I'm going to miss his jokes, I'm going to miss him being like a father image to me."

Won Pat said Unpingco was able to help lawmakers break deadlocks and resolve questions about parliamentary procedure. Now that he's gone, she said it is time for other lawmakers to "step to the plate" and learn to do what Unpingco has done.

"We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss," Gov. Camacho stated yesterday. "Speaker Unpingco was a statesman, a family man and a man of faith, character and integrity. He was a man who served with generations of leaders and transcended to the current generation -- bringing with him wisdom, maturity, experience and leadership. He was the bridge between leaders of the past and present."

Camacho said he will always respect Unpingco, and he asked Guam residents to pray for Unpingco and show him the honor and respect he deserves.

"I am honored to have known and served with this great man and I am forever grateful for his leadership and the many sacrifices he made as a public servant," Camacho said.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said "Sen. Unpingco was a gifted leader and a dedicated statesman who contributed so much to our community. He was a staunch supporter of our veterans and our families.

"Today, we recall his passion for public service and the example he set for generations of leaders on our island for the years to come," Bordallo said. "We remember all of his efforts on behalf of our people, and we also commend his work as a member of the Guam War Claims Review Commission. Most of all he was a dear friend not just to myself, Deborah and Nicole, but to so many people on our island. My prayers are with Emily and the Unpingco family, and we will all miss Tony dearly."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Senators Frustrated with US Military

Senators frustrated with military
Thursday, October 11, 2007
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

SENATORS yesterday expressed frustration with the military, and particularly at the lack of information about the coming buildup and the assistance to be given to the local community.

In discussing Bill 33, sponsored by Sen. Rory Respicio, D-Agana Heights, both Democratic and Republican senators expressed support for the creation of a panel to be called the “Commission on Community Support of the Military Mission on Guam.”

Saying that neither the Joint Guam Program Office nor the governor’s Civilian Military Task Force have shed much light on the military buildup, senators said the creation of the special panel is necessary to formulate a “team Guam approach” to strengthening relations between Guam and the federal government.

“All we’ve heard so far is what would be done inside the fence. We have heard scant details, if any, about what the military plans to do for the people of Guam,” said Sen. Jesse Lujan, R-Tamuning, who has been an outspoken critic of JGPO.

JGPO on Tuesday delivered a briefing at the Legislature for the senators but Lujan said nothing new was revealed about the community’s benefits.

“If anything, there was alarming news that Japanese labor and Japanese companies are now being considered for the buildup to the detriment of local workers and companies,” Lujan said.

“It is also only now that they are revealing that the proposed military highway would be accessible to civilians,” the senator added. Lujan had previously criticized JGPO for not disclosing details about the proposed military highway.

Sen. Tina Muna-Barnes, D-Mangilao, said the military seems to be sending conflicting messages to the people of Guam.

On the one hand, the military is assuring us that it will help the community cope with the buildup. “But they raised the water rates at Fena unilaterally. Now, we will be suffering with higher rates for using what is ours,” the senator lamented.

Sen. James Espaldon, R-Tamuning, who previously had reservations about Bill 33, now has had a change of heart.

“I previously had reservations about Bill 33 because I thought it would be unwise to change horses midstream. But with the amendment put up by Senator Blas to include the Civilian Military Task Force under the proposed commission, I’m now inclined to support the bill,” Espaldon said.

The bill proposes to create a 12-member panel that would develop “new initiatives to support the current military mission on Guam and foster its expansion.”

The commission, which Bill 33 proposes to create, would “help coordinate and support all aspects of government policy and private sector efforts in support of achieving the best results for all concerned.”

Respicio first filed the proposal to create the military commission in the 27th Legislature but it did not pass.

The senator’s attempt to get it on the floor in the 28th Legislature wasn’t successful either as Gov. Felix P. Camacho created the Civilian/Military Task Force to create a master plan for military expansion preparations and planning.

But Respicio sees no conflict with the administration, pointing out that the governor is included on the proposed commission.

The proposed commission would be composed of representatives from the governor’s office, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Visitors Bureau, Chamorro rights groups, the Mayors Council, the Legislature, and the Guam Youth Congress.

Minority Leader Judith Won-Pat, D-Malojloj, is glad the youth sector is to be included in the proposed commission.

“Here we are talking about the future of Guam and making decisions when the future of Guam is really for the island’s youth,” the minority leader said.

Bill 33 has been placed in third reading and is expected to be voted upon this current session.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bring Fena to the Table

Editorial: Bring Fena to the table
The Marianas Variety
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The 4th Conference on Business Opportunities in the Islands concluded yesterday with promises by federal and military officials that the U.S. would be doing all it can to help out Guam as it prepares for the coming buildup.

The Joint Guam Program Office stressed that the military aims to take into consideration the welfare of the local community at all times and consult with the people to make sure that its land use planning does not adversely affect residents.

And yet, the Navy decided at the beginning of this month to proceed with its Fena water rate hike without as much as a “by your leave” and despite strong opposition from the government of Guam.

The Navy’s attitude was very cavalier and high-handed. Is the Fena water rate hike a sign of things to come when it comes to the military’s actions on Guam?

The rate hike was a unilateral decision on the Navy’s part, and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities and the Guam Waterworks Authority were not even given a chance to influence the Navy decision.

The Navy has said it needs to increase rates because its cost of producing water from Fena has gone up.

But CCU studies have shown that GWA can do a better job of managing the Fena plant and produce water at a lower rate.

Yet, when the GovGuam agencies brought this up with the military, the Navy virtually thumbed its nose and arrogantly went on with the increase, haughtily informing everybody that it will increase the Fena water rate further next year.

Understandably, this action by the Navy has caught the ire of the Legislature.

Sen. Tony Unpingco, a true son of the south, has expressed disappointment in the Navy’s decision and is asking for the suspension of the water rate hike plan.

He pointed out that the Navy decision may become the linchpin in whether the proposed military buildup continues to receive widespread community support.

We believe the island’s water belongs to the people of Guam and that the local government has the right to use all the island’s water resources.

We need to renew our bid to reclaim Fena and now is the best time to do it while the military needs Guam for its expansion.

This may be the only time that we have a big bargaining chip in the negotiating table and we must try to get every concession that we can from the military.

We say bring Fena to the table so that we won’t suffer the ignominy of paying higher rates for our own water.

And let’s support CCU, which says it plans to bring the Fena issue to the attention of federal authorities in Washington, D.C.

If this is how the military treats us now, when the buildup has hardly begun, imagine what they would do when the military expansion is in earnest.

The time to bargain with the military is now.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pace Visits Guam

Pace Visits Guam to Assess Infrastructure Growth Plans
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2006 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff got a firsthand look today at growth under way here that's about to move into high gear as Guam prepares to welcome 8,000 Marines from Okinawa by 2014.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace visited Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam to learn more about expansion plans and assess Guam's readiness to absorb the Marines and an estimated 9,000 family members.

Pace called the decision, part of a broader Alliance Transformation Realignment agreement between the United States and Japan, a "win-win" situation for everyone involved. "It allows us to lesson our footprint in Japan and take advantage of the opportunities Guam presents us," he told military reporters during his visit.

Guam, a U.S. territory more than 3,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, offers a prime strategic location with ready access to potential hot spots throughout the Pacific as well as to U.S. allies, Pace noted. It's two to three hours by air and two days by ship from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and other key western Pacific locations.

"If you start drawing circles from Guam, you can see how strategic it is in the region," the chairman said. This forward location cuts down on the time required to respond to a crisis or contingency in the region and makes Guam perfectly situated for the global war on terror, he said.

"Guam is historically thought of as a logistics hub and support base, but we're also operationally engaged in the global war on terror," Rear Adm. Charles "Joe" Leidig, commander of Naval Forces Marianas and the top-ranking military representative in Guam, told Pace. "We're on the tip of the spear."

Another compelling reason for increasing the U.S. military presence in Guam is its status as a U.S. territory, deep in the western Pacific, Leidig said. That gives military planners and operators far more leeway in conducting operations than they typically find at an overseas base.

"This is U.S. soil," said Navy Capt. Ken Branch, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas. "The commander in chief doesn't have to ask anybody if he can fly from here or sail from here."

Leidig gave Pace an overview of the vast military capabilities already in Guam and plans that will dramatically increase them.

On the island's north side, Andersen Air Force Base offers ready access to air space - something quickly shrinking in the continental United States, Europe, Korea and Japan. At the same time, it features some 7.5 million square feet of ramp space and extensive open space to support future infrastructure growth, Leidig explained.

Guam also offers the Air Force's largest fuel supply in the United States, its largest supply of weapons in the Pacific and a valuable urban training area in an abandoned housing area at a site known as Andersen South.

Pace praised Andersen's "world-class facilities" that provide a platform for U.S. forces to surge where needed in the Pacific theater.

To the south, Naval Base Guam, with its protected deep-water harbor, is home port to two attack submarines, USS City of Corpus Christi and USS Houston, as well as the submarine tender USS Frank Cable. Another submarine, USS Buffalo, will join them next year, and ultimately, the base will increase its sub force to five, Leidig said.

Meanwhile, the base is building up its infrastructure, increasing inner Apra Harbor's capability to accommodate aircraft carriers, and expanding the training opportunities it's able to offer, he told Pace.

But much of Guam's potential remains yet to be tapped, Leidig said, including more than 800 acres of undeveloped land on Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Finegayan. That's where the incoming Marines are likely to be based, he said.

Leidig said he's excited about Guam's potential in capitalizing, not just on its strategic location, but also on its pro-military population and its status as a U.S. territory.

The biggest challenge in reaching that potential is ensuring Guam's infrastructure keeps pace with the need, the chairman said. Key to that is not just operating and training facilities, but also more and better barracks, family housing and quality-of-life facilities for troops and their families, he said.

The Marines alone will require an estimated 3,800 housing units and other facilities needed to support them, Leidig said.

During Pace's visit here, the admiral outlined details of the Joint Guam Military Master Plan that calls for $10 billion to $15 billion in infrastructure improvements in Guam over the next 15 years.

The plan, being fine-tuned for delivery next month to Adm. William Fallon, head of U.S. Pacific Command, will usher in a construction boom that's expected to top $1 billion a year, Leidig explained. It's a level of growth unprecedented in Guam's history, dwarfing the previously unparalleled spurt that established Guam's bustling hotel district and its status as a regional tourist hub.

"There's a lot to be done on Guam," particularly on the Navy side, which has gone through a decade of underinvestment, said Branch, Leidig's regional engineer and a key player in the growth planning process.

The sooner the work begins, the better, he said, so facilities at Guam can continue to meet current mission requirements while preparing to double the military population in Guam. "The more we do yesterday, the better we'll be for the future," he said.

Some improvements to be proposed aren't on the military facilities themselves, but in the surrounding areas that ultimately affect their operations. Leidig cited as an example an expeditionary road that links military facilities and eliminates traffic jams on Guam's single north-south thoroughfare. "While we make improvements inside the fence line, it's important that we don't overlook the area outside the fence line," he told Pace.

Pace and Leidig agreed it's critical that Guam's military expansion progresses in an environmentally friendly way that affects Guam's civilian community as little as possible. "We need to be sensitive to the environment and our fellow citizens," Pace said.

Guam's citizens, with their history of Japanese occupation during World War II, have a unique understanding of the military's importance, Leidig said. "The people here are tremendously patriotic and have a true appreciation of the word 'freedom,'" he said.

As a result, Guamanians go out of their way to make servicemembers here feel welcomed, he said. "I know the Marines will love being here."

While keeping the local population's interest in the forefront, Pace said he wants to ensure that military members who serve in Guam have the best training environment and quality-of-life amenities possible.

As he toured Naval Base Guam by mini-bus, Pace jumped from his seat to pay an impromptu call on a formation of sailors gathered outside USS City of Corpus Christi. "I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for what you do here," he told the assembled crewmembers.

"I know that you're a long way from home here, so I wanted to take a minute to thank you for your sacrifices and for what you do for this country," he said. "What you do here is really, really important."

Army Unsure of its Guam Needs

Army unsure of its Guam needs
By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

The military continues to flesh out its plans for expansion on Guam, including the transfer of 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, but still missing from the equation is the U.S. Army, which has not stated what it will need to operate here.

The military has proposed creating an Army base on Guam to provide missile defense, with as many as 630 soldiers and their families.

"We don't have the information yet," said Navy Capt. Robert Lee, acting director of the Joint Guam Program Office, who yesterday gave an update on the "Guam Military Master Plan" to the governor's civilian military task force.

The final version of the master plan for Guam is scheduled to be complete by next summer, and Lee described yesterday's presentation to the civilian military task force as, "Our first stab at a master plan."
The hourlong presentation was held at the University of Guam's business college, and Lee said it was an opportunity for the local task force to participate in the planning process. The governor and lieutenant governor heard the same presentation last Friday.

"No conclusions have been made at this time," Lee said, but he outlined some of the concepts that will drive the military's plans, including the military's desire to keep all of its activities on or near bases. The Marines like to live where they work, he said.

The plans for Guam mean the different branches of the service will share bases, Lee said, and the goal is to keep family and bachelor housing close to the bases and "quality-of-life" facilities.

The bases will be designed to allow for future expansion, Lee said, and to prevent the type of encroachment that happened at the Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma, in Okinawa. The base, which is next to the city of Ginowan, has generated concerns about community safety and the noise from military activities.

A billion-dollar road linking military bases in northern and southern Guam also has been proposed, but Lee said plans for a road will not begin until at least one of the services says it needs a road for its operations here. In the meantime, information about Guam traffic patterns will be included as part of environmental impact studies, he said.

While the Army has not yet weighed in on the expansion plans, Maj. Gen. Donald Goldhorn, adjutant general of the Guam National Guard, said he met with the Army's Pacific commander last week to express concerns that the Army has been slow in stating its requirements on Guam.

Goldhorn, who is a task force member, said the logical location for an Army base on Guam is in Barrigada, next to the existing Guam Army National Guard headquarters. That way, the army, the army reserve and the national guard can share facilities, he said.

Goldhorn said army headquarters would be located in Barrigada, but its missile defense sites would be elsewhere on Guam, probably in the north and south.

For the most part, yesterday's update was consistent with the military development plan released by the U.S. Pacific Command in July 2006 -- land in Dededo continues to be the most viable location for the Marines, and Andersen Air Force base continues to be the most viable option for Marine Corps aircraft.

Lee showed the task force lists of locations for different types of activities, noting whether the sites are viable, potentially viable, or non-viable. Analysis of viable and potentially viable sites is ongoing, he said.

While the military has identified viable locations for most activities, it still has not found a viable location on military-held land for live-fire training, Lee said.

NCTS Finegayan is among the potential training sites, he said, but the military also is considering the use of non-military land.

"We're receiving inquiries from people about buying or leasing ... their land," he said.

Lee said it is not known whether the training sites will be attached to or apart from the military bases. "It's wide open right now. We don't know where to go yet," he said.

What is known is that there isn't a single location on Guam that will meet all of the military's training needs, Lee said, so the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas also is being considered for training. "The CNMI is an active part of this whole process," he said.

Task force member Tony Lamorena, who is director of the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, expressed concerns that a military-related report being prepared for Guam by a federally funded consultant appears to be written from the military's perspective, and not the perspective of the people of Guam.

Lamorena said the draft white paper by consultant KPMG is critical of the island's water and power agencies and its port, stating that they fail to meet the military's requirements.

Lamorena said the report instead should identity the community's needs and how those needs might be adversely affected by the military buildup.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Navy: Rate Hike Had to Be Done

Navy: rate hike had to be done
by John Davis,
Thursday, October 04, 2007

Despite an outpouring of opposition to increased water rates from the production of water from the Fena Reservoir, the Navy today announced the completion of a $19 million upgrade to the treatment plant. Upgrades to the 51-year-old Fena Water Treatment Plant in Santa Rita will reduce chlorinated organics, lead and copper in water and improve plant performance by providing a redundant treatment unit.

This means if one treatment unit were to go down during a typhoon or heavy rains like today's, the Navy would be able to take a unit down without impacting treatment, even during power outages. Water from the Fena Reservoir has been at the center of discontent with local government officials and the military after the Navy decided to double the amount it charges the Guam Waterworks Authority for water produced at the plant.

While many residents feel an increase to water rates from the federal government is not warranted, Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Donnell Evans says the general misconception of operations, maintenance and production being federally funded must be cleared up. He says there were two separate sources of funding for the upgrades. The military construction part of the upgrade is funded through Congress, while operating costs for the treatment plant come from somewhere else. Lt. Evans pinpointed this as being "directly from the revenues generated from the customers."

Evans does confirm that the Navy will also be using revenue generated from the 100% increase to pay off prior year losses, he does say however that once the Navy has collected money lost over the last several years, there could be a chance for rate relief. "There may be some decreases or we may have to adjust the actual cost structure from the plant based on inflation and based on being able to recover some past year losses," the officer explained. "That is definitely something we can consider."

And for the many residents against rate increases from the Navy because they feel it plays a part in the massive military relocation of military personnel and feel the Navy should foot the bill, Evans says the increase in the water rates have nothing to do with the 8,000 U.S. Marines and their families who will be calling Guam home within the next five to ten years. He adds that the increase is strictly related to the past and current operating costs for the water treatment plant, explaining, "We clearly understand that there is opposition to this increase and it's an emotional issue, but we understand that. But it doesn't rally change the fact that it cost money to operate the water treatment plant...we are stewards of government resources and as stewards of resources, we have to make sure that we don't operate this plant at a loss."

Operating costs aside, members of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities maintain that Navy water should still be cheaper than GWA water because the Navy does not take out loans for upgrades, have debt service responsibilities and their capitol improvement projects are federally funded. CCU chairman Simon Sanchez even suggested that the utility agency handle the operations of the water treatment plant, since there is a possibility it would cost them less.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Marine move to Guam may be Jeopardized

Lack of funding, room jeopardize Guam buildup
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Sep 30, 2007 9:30:13 EDT
Marine Corps Times

More than 60 years after leathernecks liberated Guam during World War II, plans for a second invasion of 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa, Japan, scheduled for 2014, are falling behind as uncertainties with funding the transfer and finding enough room on the tiny Pacific island risk dooming the project altogether.

Issues have arisen with getting Congress and the Japanese government to approve funding for the estimated $10.3 billion military buildup, which also includes constructing an Army ballistic missile defense station and a new Navy pier capable of berthing a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, according to retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice, the director of the Joint Guam Program Office, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.

The Japanese government has agreed to fund $6.1 billion of the $10.3 billion price tag for the Marine move, but Bice said he is still worried that the Guam project could be passed over for other priorities in the Middle East.

“We recognize that Congress and the [Defense Department] is always going to be challenged for funding,” he said. “Our program is going to have to be fully justified.”

His office missed a December 2006 deadline to submit a master plan for the buildup to the Senate Appropriations Committee, but Bice said his office isn’t planning to issue one until February 2009, so funding will be included in the fiscal 2010 military budget and construction can start by summer 2010.

While the transfer of Marines is still seven years off and the units that will be sent to Guam may still change, the units identified for relocation from Okinawa include the command element for III Marine Expeditionary Force; the headquarters for 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Logistics Group and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing; and 12th Marines, according to the GAO report.

By all accounts there is a lot of work ahead to upgrade Guam’s infrastructure and construct enough houses and military buildings to prepare for the 39,310 service members and dependents that will make up the buildup.

“There will be impacts on the infrastructure and we are working to respond to that growth,” said Shawn Gumataotao, spokesman for Guam Gov. Felix Camacho.

The GAO report described the two major roads in Guam as in “poor condition” and pointed out that the lack of roadways forces the Air Force to transport ordnance through highly populated areas to its depots.

The electric grid is also unreliable and the utility transmission lines are antiquated, according to the report. The solid-waste landfills are near capacity and the “waste-water treatment facilities have a long history of failing” and are also near capacity, the GAO reported.

Construction has been going on for the last couple years on Guam to update these faults, Gumataotao said. About $500 million has already been invested for projects to shore up roads, install power lines underground, and improve the handling of wastewater, he said.

Questions also surround how all the new Marines will be housed and how a high quality of life will be maintained on the remote island. Bice said the Japanese government plans to build 3,250 homes on base, and the governor’s office confirmed that housing developers on the island are working to build more off-base housing.

While the island can be a lonely place for service members, Bice is confident that the efforts made by his office and Guam officials will make it an attractive station.

“It’s going to be the new Oahu because it’s going to be a place people want to go,” he said.

The lack of infrastructure is fixable, but no study or congressional funding bill will create more space on the island, which is roughly the size of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The Defense Department owns 40,000 acres of land on Guam, equal to 29 percent of the island, where 14,195 service members work, according to the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan.

DoD officials originally promised they could accomplish the buildup without obtaining more land, but Bice said his staff has reviewed the possibility of purchasing real estate from private landowners who have come forward and offered to sell.

But “there are political sensitivities to using former DoD land areas, since local community officials in Guam are concerned with the community’s reaction to DoD’s possible expansion of land holdings on the island,” the GAO reported.

While there is a minority on the island that is opposed to the buildup, Gumataotao said 70 percent of Guam residents polled do support it and are excited about the economic development it could provide.

Military planners might not be as excited when it comes to ensuring Marines meet training requirements.

“Training is going to be an issue on Guam,” said Bice, who once commanded 3rd Marine Division. Instead of staying on the island, Marines will have to travel to islands about 90 miles away to complete training exercises, Bice said.