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After spending more than two weeks in the Pacific, the head of the office that will oversee relocating 8,000 Marines to Guam said he’s confident the many obstacles facing the plan will be overcome.

“It’s a huge realignment process, but there’s nothing here that can’t be solved,” retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice said Friday of the $10 billion project. At the same time, he acknowledged “a limitation” on how much construction can be done on Guam until certain concerns are addressed.

The current capacity of the island’s commercial seaport is one limiting factor, said Bice, who during his Pacific trip also traveled to Japan to meet with U.S. Forces Japan and U.S. Embassy officials. He returned to Washington on Monday.

The Joint Guam Program Office head said Guam’s port, in its current state, could not handle the influx of shipments required during the construction phase, nor could it sustain the buildup — household goods, food stocks and other supplies for personnel assigned to Guam.

The port is owned and operated by the government of Guam.

Bice said the island’s labor force is another limiting factor.

“We’ll probably have to rely on off-island labor sources,” Bice said. “That brings challenges as well, whether they come from the mainland, or from Hawaii or if they come from foreign nations.”

Guam officials estimate that 20,000 workers will be needed for Marine Corps-related construction. The island currently has a little more than 4,000 construction workers.

An ongoing area of concern is the ability of Guam utilities to handle the increased demand the buildup will bring.

While Bice told the Guam Chamber of Commerce last month that the military would prefer to be paying customers of the island’s utilities, his office is considering other possibilities, including setting up its own power generation capabilities.

“It’s my job to assure the military commanders that they’re going to get reliable, uninterruptible utility support,” Bice said. “The great thing for Guam is that additional capacity will be provided here.”


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