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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 26) - While maintaining that Valiant Shield 2006 had nothing to do with possible threats from China and North Korea, U.S. military officials, just the same, warn potential aggressors in the region that American forces on Guam can deal with them.

[PIR editor’s note: Valiant Shield was a large war exercise conducted by the United States Navy near from June 19 to 24 and displayed Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corp exercises.]

Military officials underscored Guam’s growing significance to the national defense strategy during the conclusion of the Valiant Shield 2006 exercise on Friday.

"Guam continues to grow in importance," Stars & Stripes Pacific edition quoted Lieutenant General David Deptula as saying.

"Our geo-strategic position allows us to position forces to respond to any international event," said Deputla from Valiant Shield’s air command post in Hawai‘i.

He said, "potential aggressors should take note" of forces on Guam that would make the U.S. to respond accordingly.

Guam will see 8,000 Marines, who will be relocated from Okinawa, Japan beginning 2008.

The Stars and Stripes reported that the planned military expansion on Guam will increase the number of personnel on Andersen Air Force Base by 3,000 in the next few years. Andersen Air Force Base currently has a 8,500-person base community, according to Stars and Stripe.

"We’re no longer the Sleepy Hollow base of yesteryear. We are on a big-time up cycle," Colonel Michael Boera, who commands the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing, told Stars and Stripes.

The five-day military exercises from June 19 to 23 involved 22,000 military personnel, 30 ships and 280 aircrafts from the carrier strike groups USS Kitty Hawk, USS Ronald Regan and USS Abraham Lincoln that converged in the air and waters off Guam.

Toward the conclusion of Valiant Shield on Friday, members of the Guam media were given the opportunity last Friday to board a KC-10 Extender that refueled 14 F/A-18 Hornets.

The aerial refueling process involves the transfer of fuel from one aircraft to another during flight, allowing the recipient aircraft to remain airborne longer, and to take off with a greater payload.

June 27, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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