BETWEEN JAPAN AND U.S., $1 BILLION APPROVED FOR GUAM

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Construction can begin for military build-up

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 15, 2009) – Despite a recession in Japan and the United States, the two allies have approved the release of over $1 billion in fiscal year 2010 to finance the military buildup projects in Guam.

Capt. Ulysses Zalamea, deputy director of the Joint Guam Program Office, which is tasked to oversee the military buildup that includes relocating at least 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam, said the U.S. approved more than $787 million and Japan agreed to pay $336 million so Guam can begin the construction phase next year.

In his presentation before the delegates to the four-day Second Annual Pacific Mayors Conference being held here, Zalamea said the $336 million Japanese-share will be spent on Guam utilities and site improvements.

These include the utilities sitework for Finegayen BEQ Complex; improvements at the Andersen Air Force Base North Ramp gate and access road; and utilities for the Apra Harbor wharves.

The U.S. budget will cover the construction of commando warrior operations facilities; a torpedo exercise support building; a hospital replacement; a housing project; headquarters facility; perimeter fence and road; defense access road improvements, parking, among other projects.

Zalamea said the Environmental Impact Assessment, or EIA, as required by the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act is on schedule.

He also reiterated that based on their analysis Guam is the most ideal place in the Asia-Pacific Region to strengthen the U.S. military’s presence because of its geographic location that will enable the troops to immediately response to a potential conflict.

"After a careful analysis, we determined that Guam is the ideal location for this buildup project," said Zalamea who used to be the commander of the U.S. prepositioned ships and whose previous posts included a deployment to Brussels, Belgium.

Aside from relocating the Marines and their estimated 9,000 dependents to the territory, the Guam Joint Military Master Plan also includes positioning an Army Air and Missile Defense Task Force; continuing a program to establish an Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Hub as well as other Department of Defense programs to improve the readiness of the American forces to response to any security and disaster situation.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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