By Gaynor-Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 27) - Guam's Andersen Air Force Base is being seriously considered as a permanent home for some bomber aircraft, Col. Gregg Sanders, vice commander of the 13th Air Force, said yesterday.

Sanders, a guest at the Guam Visitors Bureau general membership meeting yesterday, made the statement a week after the Department of Defense announced the award of two construction projects at Andersen.

One project, worth $32.3 million, involves the design and construction of an aircraft maintenance hangar that can withstand supertyphoon conditions, according to the contract award.

Andersen confirmed in July that funds for the construction of a concrete hangar for two B-2 stealth bombers have been approved.

Sanders discussed what he called a greater military presence on Guam in light of at least three potential trouble spots that are within several flight hours from Guam, including:

· North Korea -- The U.S. military temporarily deployed 24 B-1B Lancers and B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Guam in July as a show of U.S. military might as North Korea threatened to carry on with its nuclear weapons program.

· The two Chinas -- The United States should expand its military presence on Guam as a staging base in defense of Taiwan against potential threat from mainland China, according to an Associated Press report of a Pentagon-sponsored study by the Rand think tank.

· Terrorism hot spots -- The terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiyah, known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia, has connections with the terrorist group al-Qaida, according to a State Department travel warning against travel to Indonesia and Mindanao region in the Philippines.

At Andersen, a four-phase, $85 million aircraft refueling facility project begun in fiscal 2000 is expected to be completed in fiscal 2004, according to previously released information from Andersen's public affairs office.

The U.S. military also is spending $12.8 million for upgrades to 112 housing units at Capehart military family housing area at Andersen, according to a Defense Department announcement last week naming the contractor selected for the project.

On the Navy side, Rear Adm. Patrick W. Dunne, commander of Naval Forces Marianas, mentioned yesterday the U.S. Navy's buildup on Guam over the last two years.

Two fast-attack submarines made Guam their home port last year.

A third submarine, the USS Houston, is scheduled to make its way to Guam in May or June next year, according to Dunne.

Last year, the Navy broke ground for at least $20 million worth of projects geared toward making the Navy base on Guam a better setup for accommodating homeported and visiting submarines and surface ships.

September 29, 2003

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