GUAM’S BORDALLO PROTESTS MILITARY SETBACK

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GUAM’S BORDALLO PROTESTS MILITARY SETBACK Senate puts freeze on massive buildup plans

By Therese Hart HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 17, 2011) – Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo issued a statement yesterday, saying the [a] U.S. Senate [committee’s] freezing of funding for the Guam [military] buildup "may have unintended consequences for the bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan at this critical juncture, prior to the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting next week."

Bordallo’s statement was in response to remarks made by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill during a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee mark-up of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.

McCaskill said the details of the Senate’s version of the NDAA have not been publicly released yet, and "it is not exactly clear how Senate provisions will affect Guam and the military buildup."

McCaskill is the chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. She is known on the Hill to be an advocate for better oversight and accountability on defense spending.

The senator said her subcommittee will oppose any further funding for the buildup until the Commandant of the Marine Corps issues his position on force deployment in the Asia-Pacific region, and until the Pentagon issues a master plan laying out the timing and cost of the proposed buildup.

Bordallo said she expects the Obama administration and the Department of Defense to "weigh in on the Senate provisions and to comment on their feasibility and potential impacts with alliance partners. We live in a dangerous part of the world, and the freedom of movement for our forces is critical and can be best achieved on Guam. The Senate provisions will ultimately be reconciled with the House bill during conference committee later this year. I have stressed on numerous occasions that the Department of Defense needs to be more transparent and better communicate its needs and requirements to the Senate, as they have done to the House," said Bordallo.

Last month, the House remained supportive of the Guam military buildup and fully funded military construction associated with the realignment of the Marines.

"We are mindful of the cost increases, but [we] recognize that the military buildup is an investment in the future security of our nation and important to the future economy of our island," said Bordallo.

Meanwhile, Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo’s Senior Policy Advisor, Arthur Clark, yesterday said the governor remains confident that the buildup will happen.

"We are confident that the buildup remains on track, although we believe the old timelines are just unrealistic as everyone expected. The Senate Armed Services Committee has been requesting an updated Master Plan from the Department of Defense since last December.

It's no surprise that it remains an issue for them. From what we've been told by DOD, a draft master plan has already been presented to the committee and the Secretary of Defense, and DOD is working to finalize the master plan to ensure the financial aspects – which understandably have been under scrutiny – are realistic, accurate and comprehensive.

"We understand that the ‘2+2’ meeting – between the U.S. Secretaries of Defense and State and their Japanese government counterparts, [which] was supposed to happen in the spring – will occur this summer. We are looking forward to the outcome of that meeting to provide us with further clarity on the timing and other aspects of the buildup. The administration's focus continues to be ensuring it is done in the best interest of all Guamanians," said Clark.

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