Pacific Sites Named In Massive U.S. Military Construction Plan

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Saipan airport slated for $29.3 million air force projects

By Frank Whitman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, April 16, 2013) – The fiscal year 2014 budget proposal submitted by President Barack Obama includes 12 military construction projects – specific projects funded by Congress – valued at a total of $494.61 million.

While the budget is still subject to modification by Congress before it becomes law, if passed intact, the figure represents a tripling of the fiscal 2012 military construction authorization of $147 million – and during fiscal 2013, the government has operated on a continuing resolution, and therefore no new military construction appropriations.

The military construction budget proposal also contains $29.3 million for projects at the Saipan International Airport. "Saipan will serve as an exercise and weather divert location for air forces in the Pacific," according to Department of the Air Force budget justification documents. Pacific Air Forces plans to spend another $86 million on projects at the Saipan airport during the next four years.

Among the proposed projects is only one directly related to the realignment of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam. While much of the Marine relocation work is on hold as a supplemental environmental impact study is in progress, the construction of aviation facilities in the North Ramp area of Andersen Air Force Base is moving forward. The president proposes $85.67 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar at the North Ramp complex.

Another non-Air Force project proposed for Andersen is a forward operating and maintenance hangar, valued at $61.7 million, for the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program – which utilizes MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, similar to the Air Force’s Global Hawk aircraft. A completed BAMS complex is to accommodate four aircraft and 50 personnel. The BAMS program is to begin operating at Andersen in late 2016.

Northwest Field

Two Air Force projects are planned for the Pacific Region Training Center in the Northwest Field area of Andersen. An airfield operations facility is planned for the Red Horse construction battalion and is valued at $8.5 million. A fire rescue and emergency valued at $4.6 million is planned for the Silver Flag site at the training center. The facility is required to move the Silver Flag mission from Kadena Air Base, Japan, according to the justification document.

An additional three Air Force projects at Andersen are designated part of the Pacific Airpower Resiliency (PAR) initiative. PAR includes "hardening critical infrastructure, including select hangars ... that also includes dispersal and rapid recovery capabilities after attack," according to the statement of Kathleen I. Ferguson, acting secretary of the Air Force for environment and logistics, on April 12 before a congressional subcommittee. Proposed are $20 million for fuel systems hardened buildings, $10.53 million for a Guam Strike tactical missile maintenance facility, and $132.6 million for a tanker maintenance hangar to also house aircraft maintenance unit squadron operations.

The Air Force also has plans for another $288.65 million in projects at Andersen over the next four years.

Other fiscal 2014 Navy projects include a $17.17 million dehumidified storage facility at Polaris Point to support the requirements of the submarines stationed there; $35.86 million for a two-story expansion of the emergent repair facility also at Polaris Point in support of the submarines; $63.38 million for 28 modular storage magazines on Orote Point in proximity to ordnance handling operations at Kilo Wharf; $53.42 million for improvements to X-Ray Wharf to provide berthing and utilities for one auxiliary cargo and ammunition (T-AKE) ship; and $1.17 million to upgrade existing utility infrastructure at Sierra Wharf to support general berthing of submarines and other military vessels, according to Navy budget justification documents.

In fiscal year 2012, the Senate inserted language in the defense authorization bill that prevented funds being spent on Marine relocation projects until certain conditions were met. Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo is hopeful senators will not include such language in the fiscal year 2014 bill. "At a [Senate Armed Services Committee] hearing [last] week, chairman Carl Levin said he supports the concept of re-stationing Marines from Okinawa to Guam in a fiscally responsible and operationally sound manner," said a spokeswoman from Bordallo’s office. "He added that the Senate is still waiting on a master plan from [the Department of Defense]. As you know, we’ve made progress in satisfying some of the requirements of the FY2012 [National Defense Authorization Act] to move forward in spending and obligating funds already received from the government of Japan as well as U.S. mil con that was previously appropriated. DOD has been working diligently to provide the Senate with greater fidelity on the planning stages of the Guam realignment, and the congresswoman is confident that we will continue to build off progress we’ve made in recent years."

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