GUAM'S MILITARY ROLE ENDURES

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By Scott Radway Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (September 20, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Since the Spanish occupation of Guam began hundreds of years ago, the island has served as a vital military holding in the region.

"It has always been strategic, because it is the largest island in Micronesia and it has very large harbors," said Dirk Ballendorf, a professor of history and Micronesian studies at the University of Guam.

That's the main reason the United States is here on Guam: military strategy, Ballendorf added.

As the United States gears up for a possible military response to September 11 terrorist attacks, and military tensions with China come to the forefront, Guam's geography might increase its involvement in the international arena, officials said.

"It's location. It's a good staging area for anywhere in the Pacific," said Capt. Glenn Paulino, assistant professor of political science in the university's ROTC program.

Ferdinand Magellan's landing on Guam in 1521 began Spain's reign, which lasted until 1898, when the Americans claimed the island as part of its prizes in the Spanish-American War.

When Japanese invasion forces stormed Guam in 1941, the Americans surrendered the island, but recaptured it on July 21, 1944.

Paulino added that Guam also is strategically attractive because it is safe for the military and island residents are very patriotic.

"I think we will be developing added importance," said Sen. Mark Forbes, chairman of the legislative committee that deals with military affairs.

Forbes, R-Sinajana, said Guam was mainly used in the past as a storage area for munitions and supplies and not for major deployments.

But Guam is much more secure because of its remote location than many other bases, Forbes said, adding that the island might be more appealing if military activity in this part of the world increases.

"The United States has to be concerned about its assets overseas," Forbes said, adding that a military buildup could have economic benefits for the financially troubled island.

Military officials declined to comment, saying that operations in this region are classified, especially in light of recent developments.

Ben Guerrero, a retired Marine Corps major and current administrator for the Veterans Affairs Office, said he believes Guam is in a strategic geographic location, but he is still unsure what that will mean in the future. Guerrero said a war on terrorism is not like wars of the past and it is unknown what form the upcoming mission will take or how many troops might head through or to Guam.

"It is a different type of environment now. We are looking at terrorists and it is a whole different ball game," said Guerrero, who fought in the Vietnam War.

 

U.S. CALL-UP MAY AFFECT GUAM: GOVERNMENT AGENCIES STAND TO LOSE WORKERS TO RESERVE UNITS

By Connor Murphy Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (September 20, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---America's war against terrorism could severely drain the government of Guam's work force.

At some agencies, up to 40 percent of the staff is in the National Guard or reserve and could be lost temporarily if they are called into active duty, department directors said. But Guam's Washington delegate, Robert Underwood, said it is unlikely those reservists will be called on immediately.

After terrorist attacks on the United States, President Bush gave the military authority to call to active duty 50,000 reservists -- including members of Guam Army National Guard, Guam Air National Guard, Army Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve. No Guam reservists have been called up yet, according to local officials.

Delegate Underwood said in a press release yesterday that Guam's reservists aren't likely to be activated, at least during the first period of attacks.

"Because of Guam's distance and the availability of reserve units in and around the New York and Washington, D.C., areas, it is unlikely that folks from Guam will be called upon for this mobilization," Underwood is quoted as saying in the release.

Capt. John Guerrero, Guam Army National Guard public information officer, said there are more than 1,000 Guam Army and Air Guard reservists.

"They're teachers, firefighters, police officers, (Guam Power Authority) employees," Guerrero said.

About 500 Guam and Saipan residents are in the Army Pacific Reserve, Pacific Daily News files state.

John Quinata, director of the Department of Customs and Quarantine, said 33 of his about 80 employees are reservists.

Quinata said his agency is making plans for the activation, should it occur.

"We're brainstorming right now, to make sure it's not a total disruption of service," Quinata said.

One solution may be to ask remaining employees to work longer hours and pay them overtime, Quinata said.

Many other local agencies stand to lose employees temporarily in the near future.

Ninety Guam Fire Department employees, or about 30 percent of the department's work force, are reservists, said fire department spokesman Capt. Andy Arceo.

Arceo said that if those employees are called to war, 22 administrative staffers, including Arceo and the deputy director, will work in the field to take reservists' places.

Fifty Guam Police Department officers, or about 20 percent of the total police force, are reservists as well, according to Pacific Daily News files.

"If there is a war, it's going to come to a point where we say (to residents) 'pick up a number and wait,'" said Sgt. Ray Fernandez, police department spokesman.

Legislative Speaker Tony Unpingco announced yesterday he has asked for a list of all executive and judicial branch employees who are reservists.

The Legislature needs to assess the impact on the government of calling its employees to active military duty, Unpingco said.

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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