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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Jan. 12) – The military has expressed concern over assaults in Tumon, the island’s central tourist district.

Variety confirmed that the military has issued a memorandum warning its personnel to be careful when they venture outside the base, especially at night.

Rumors have spread that local gangs have been specifically targeting military personnel, taunting them and picking fights with them.

Lt. John D. Griffin, public affairs officer at Andersen Air Force Base, confirmed that a memorandum has been issued to base personnel, warning them to be alert when they are out of the base.

But he told Variety that he can’t send out a copy of the memo.

"Air force members have been told to be aware of their surroundings and be alert. Commanders have been telling their airmen to be aware when they go out at night," Griffin said.

But he denied that military personnel are being singled out.

"Actually, that is incorrect. What has been happening is that there has been an increase in assaults in the Tumon area in general. And I stress in general, not just military. This has been happening over the past several months already," Griffin said.

He added that the advisory is for everybody on base, not just for the newly arrived airmen on Guam, and that military personnel are briefed not just about safety and security issues but also about environmental issues such as being careful with the island’s reefs and other natural resources.

Griffin assured, however, that the military still encourages its personnel to go out and patronize island establishments.

"We advise all our airmen about their entertainment opportunities on the island. And although we do not patrol Tumon, we have a good working relationship with the Guam Police Department," Griffin said.

The Guam Visitors Bureau has already expressed concern over the growing number of incidents in Tumon.

"We are very concerned at any violence, whether directed against the military, tourists, or local residents. And it’s not just violence there are also other crimes like thefts and car rentals being broken into," GVB general manager Gerry Perez told Variety.

January 12, 2006

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