The U.S. plans to begin construction for a historic military buildup on Guam in early 2011, but the effort has run headlong into the territory’s opposition to Marine Corps firing ranges on ancient ancestral land.

Three private groups sued the Department of Defense in a Hawaii district court on Nov. 16 over its plans to build the ranges on the Pagat land, a stretch of undeveloped coastal land that contains artifacts and graves of the indigenous Chamorro culture.

The DOD has said it could not find any other suitable sites for the training ranges, which are key to a massive buildup that includes transferring 8,600 Marines from Okinawa and creating facilities for visiting aircraft carriers by 2014.

For now, it is unclear whether the lawsuit will delay the buildup. The Department of Justice is handling the case for the DOD and has until January to respond to the suit.

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