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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 30) – A senior U.S. military official in the Western Pacific Region yesterday said Tinian will be used to train the 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan, who will be relocated to Guam in 2008.

Rear Adm. Charles Leidig Jr, commander of the Naval Forces in the Marianas, said his office has already submitted a proposed plan to the Pacific Command on how to maximize Tinian land leased to the U.S. military through 2050.

The Pacific Command is expected to release its decision in July.

"Right now, we’re looking at what our requirements might be for the CNMI. We know that with that large number of Marines coming to Guam, we will need training opportunities in the Northern Mariana Islands," Leidig said in an interview after yesterday’s Memorial Day dedication ceremony.

"We’re still waiting for our plan to be approved by the commander of the Pacific Command (Adm William J. Fallon) in mid-July. At that point, we will be ready to talk about more specifics. We will use Tinian for training. What kind of facilities we might need or what it might look like is still to be decided," he added.

As for Saipan, Leidig said there is no immediate plan yet to increase the maritime prepositioned ships, or military supply ships, based here.

"Right now, you will continue to see four, five, up to six maritime prepositioned ships," he said.

Leidig said the 8,000 Marines who will be transferred to Guam have some 9,000 family members.

"With the 8,000 Marines are also 9,000 family members. So as a result of that we need to build more facilities. Everything from housing, to barracks for the Marines, to schools, to improving healthcare facilities and quality life facilities," said Leidig. "So there’s going to be quite a build-up."

May 30, 2006

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