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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Oct. 16) – A military construction boom at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam is seen as the military installation prepares for an additional 3,100 active duty personnel and their dependents to be deployed in the next few years.

This is in addition to the 8,500 active duty personnel and their dependents already residing on the base and the impending relocation of some 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa.

Red Horse, Combat Communications, Commando Warrior, and Silver Flag units from South Korea and Japan are set to transfer to Guam, bringing more than 400 personnel and their families.

Last week, components of the Red Horse unit started arriving on island, eyeing an initial operating capability by summer 2007.

In addition, a permanent air tanker operation, continuous bomber rotations, and up to 48 deployed fighter aircraft will bring approximately 1,300 deployed and 700 permanently assigned personnel with their families.

According to the Air Force, these missions will require multiple hangars, maintenance shops, warehouses, dorms, community support facilities, new temporary lodging, and maybe a new commissary.

An extensive infrastructure network will also be required, including support facilities such as classrooms, warehouses, administrative space, maintenance shops, munitions storage facilities, dorms, dining and recreational areas, and other infrastructure. Many of the new proposed facilities will support the flying operations of Andersen, including the regular rotation of bombers at the base.

There are also plans to construct a corrosion control facility, general purpose maintenance hangar, and clear water rinse facility that will support not only rotational bombers but other aircraft operations as well.

The U.S. Congress signed the Defense Bill, authorizing US$193 million in new military construction projects for Guam, a US$31 million increase over the 2006 level.

This includes legislation authorizing US$12.5 million for phase 1 of the infrastructure upgrade to Northwest Field and US$52.8 million for the Global Hawk maintenance and operations complex that will start construction next year.

According to the Air Force, the spending of millions of dollars on Andersen is justified because basing Pacific air operations out of Guam is still cheaper than flying from Japan, Korea, or the continental U.S.

Andersen is described as the “tip of the strategic triangle” that includes bases in Alaska and Hawai΄i.

The Air Force also sees Guam as an ideal strategic location because it allows aircraft to be over "enemy" territory within a few hours versus the many hours or even days that it would take to launch air operations from other locations.

And since the island is a U.S. territory, over flight or landing rights are not required and during times of political uncertainty, the U.S. military always has permission to operate from Guam.

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