Guam Buildup Master Plan Unlikely Till 2018: Report

admin's picture

U.S. expected to pay $9 billion in buildup-related costs

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 13, 2013) – The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will need considerable time -- beyond 2018 -- to complete an integrated master plan required to unlock certain military buildup construction funds and possibly funding for Guam's civilian projects, a new federal report states.

In April 2012, the Defense Department announced that it would revise its previous Marine Corps realignment plan, but a new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states the Pentagon has not completed two key planning tasks:

"According to Marine Corps officials, they recognize the importance of the master planning process for the realignment of Marines; however, they know master plans for some geographic segments of the realignment may take several years to produce," the GAO report states. "DOD officials stated that they can only estimate when an integrated master plan can be completed, but it will likely be beyond the 2018 time frame."

The federal accountability agency states in the report that, "without comprehensive cost estimates developed for the realignment plan, DOD will be hampered in achieving its affordability goal of not starting a program without firm costs goals in place."

"DOD acknowledges that it will be 2018 or later before an integrated master plan can be completed to provide Congress with the necessary information it needs on all of the specific projects, requirements, schedules, and costs to aid it in its decision making regarding the realignment of Marines in the Pacific," the GAO report states.

In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed to reduce the number of U.S. Marines on Okinawa and move almost half of them to Guam.

U.S. military bases on Okinawa house approximately 8,000 U.S. Air Force personnel and up to 19,000 U.S. Marine Corps personnel on any given day, the GAO report states.

The 2006 agreement would have involved moving 8,000 Marines and 9,000 of their dependents to Guam. A revised plan, announced in 2012, will move only 4,800 Marines to Guam.

The rest of the Marines who will move from Okinawa will be sent to Hawaii, Australia and the continental United States, the GAO report states.

Funding responsibility

As the delays to relocate almost half of the Marines from Okinawa stretched to years, the estimate of the relocation costs has increased. The revised plan also means that the United States, rather than Japan, is picking up the bigger share of the relocation tab, the GAO report shows.

The 2006 realignment plan was estimated to have cost $10.3 billion, with Japan paying $6.1 billion.

The 2012 revised plan has the United States paying the larger tab --$9 billion -- of the higher $12.1 billion relocation cost, the GAO report shows.

The estimate does not include the cost to move 2,500 Marines to Australia, which has not been determined, the GAO report states.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 requires, among other things, that the Defense Department submit to the congressional defense committees an integrated plan for redistributing Marine forces within the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility. The distribution plan, according to the GAO report, will include moving members of the Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, Australia, and possibly other locations that are contemplated as a result of U.S.-Japan talks in 2012.

Part of what will take the integrated master plan longer to complete is that some of the areas where the Marines will be or may be relocated still do not have agreements involving the potential host countries, the federal report states.

The defense spending law also requires the Defense Department to submit to the congressional defense committees a master plan for the construction of facilities specifically for the relocation of Marines to Guam, including a detailed description of costs and a schedule for such construction.

But it remains unclear where the Marines will be housed on Guam, so the estimates for the Guam relocation remain unknown. And some aspects of the Guam relocation plan are tied to the overall sequencing of the shift of certain Marines within and out of Okinawa, and that sequencing also is unclear, the federal report states.

Without more specific plans, certain U.S. senators have blocked military buildup funding, particularly for infrastructure projects outside Guam's military bases.

The House Armed Services Committee recently proposed to unlock funding for Guam projects that are to be funded with money from the government of Japan, Pacific Daily News files show, but that proposal hasn't reached Senate scrutiny.

The funding restrictions do exempt funds for planning and design of projects at Andersen Air Force Base and Andersen South, the defense spending law, cited in the GAO report, states.

Civilian infrastructure on Guam

Although $1.3 billion in water and wastewater projects were connected to the original realignment plan, the Marine Corps only identified $600 million for all utilities and infrastructure under the revised plan, the GAO report states.

According to Marine Corps officials, this $600 million was to only fund water and wastewater projects that the government of Japan was previously expected to finance, but is no longer obligated to pay for as a result of the adjustments to the 2006 Roadmap announced in April 2012.

Marine Corps officials also said that the decision to include only $600 million was a planning decision and not based on any updated analysis of public infrastructure requirements for the current realignment plan, the GAO report states.

"These same officials said that any updated analysis would not be available until the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Guam was completed."

The Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Guam is expected to be completed next year. The completion of the relocation of Marines to Guam will likely be in 2020, Pacific Daily News files show based on earlier military estimates.

But the possible complete move to Guam of the Marines' dependents might not occur until 10 years from now, or 2023, the GAO report states.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment