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By Dionesis Tamondong

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (March 22, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Having an increased military presence would help the island's economy and provide greater protection for Guam, residents said yesterday.

The Guam Chamber of Commerce released a report Tuesday stating that residents and the local government welcome and would accommodate locating more military units in Guam.

The report cited an October 1998 survey of 445 registered voters, in which 83 percent of respondents agreed that the military makes a positive contribution to Guam.

The Chamber's white paper said the survey shows "that the populace favors a larger military presence on the island."

The paper's appendix said the poll showed 31 percent of respondents supported an increase in the size of the military's presence here, and 50 percent felt the size of the military's presence here in 1998 was "about right."

Survey respondents overwhelmingly favored Air Force training, Navy port visits and basing Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier, on Guam, the release said.

Dededo resident Stephanie Roncal said she thinks a greater military presence would provide a boost to the island's ailing economy.

"I look forward to it," she said.

Roncal noted she experienced the negative effects of military downsizing when she used to live on a military base in California.

"When Fort Ord shut down, that place just dwindled because the surrounding businesses thrived on the military," Roncal said.

Department of Defense spending is Guam's second-largest industry, according to the Chamber's Force Structure Redistribution in the Asia-Pacific Region report.

A greater military presence would mean more protection for the island, said Patrick Duenas of Inarajan.

"When they come here, more training could be done between local and military forces," Duenas said. "Plus, it would also put us more on the map."

But one Dededo resident said she had mixed feelings about Guam's strategic importance to the military.

Although Lani Manu said bringing more military personnel to Guam may provide more jobs to residents and more commerce to business owners, she worried about Guam's proximity to enemies of the United States.

"Because we are a strategic location, enemies may target Guam," she said. "You never know. Some country could attack Guam like they did Pearl Harbor."

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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