Details on military’s plan for Guam expansion coming soon
July 13, 2006
Details of the U.S. military’s expansion on Guam will be revealed in coming days after a comprehensive plan within U.S. Pacific Command makes its way toward final approval, according to the general charged with writing the plan.
The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan will set the stage for military buildup, strategies and lifestyle on the island for years to come, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, deputy commander of Pacific Command.
Once approved by commander Adm. William J. Fallon, the plan will serve as a blueprint on how U.S. Air Force and Navy forces are to grow to complement the arrival of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, Leaf said.
“It is a significant milestone, but it is just a start,” Leaf said Tuesday during a telephone interview from his office in Hawaii. “It will not provide all the answers that everybody on Guam, or anywhere else for that matter, would like. But it will provide a solid foundation of information that we can use to now take the next step and begin execution of a significant enhancement of military capability on Guam that will benefit the residents on Guam as well.”
What is already known about the move hasn’t changed in the past few weeks, Leaf said. Beginning in 2008, Marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Force will begin moving from Okinawa. Cost estimates for the move remain at $10.3 billion, though that number may change with time, Leaf said.
The development plan will include more information about sites for operational units, estimates of military housing and infrastructure needs. Leaf said it also will include an introduction of “joint-basing” on Guam in which different branches of the military will share such support services as health care and family services to save money.
At this point, the plan does not include any integration of the military’s infrastructure plans with those of Guam, where local leaders are in early stages of overhauling major parts of the island’s utility systems.
Making the military’s plan mesh with Guam’s for power, water, sewage and roadways “is the next important step,” Leaf said.
In Guam on Tuesday, Gov. Felix P. Camacho and Guam National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Donald Goldhorn held their first task force meeting to begin planning for the military buildup. They both admitted they had few details about the buildup or the expected comprehensive plan.
Still, both men want to bring together different government and community groups to plan for changes on Guam in everything from education to labor to housing. They brought in two members of the Pentagon’s Office of Economic Adjustment, a group that helps communities deal with military base closures and expansions.
Earlier Tuesday, Leaf stressed that he felt many of the military’s plans could benefit the island’s infrastructure and people.
“It’s very likely and essential,” he said. “We don’t have the mandate or the funding to address all of Guam’s infrastructure needs. But if we do it right, and we will … then it has to benefit the infrastructure needs of Guam directly and indirectly.”
But Leaf also said the military’s mission, and its ability to be ready to respond, take priority. “We’ve got to make sure we provide real mission capability that’s sustainable and survivable even in the worst of weather down there in Guam during a typhoon,” he said.
Leaf also repeated Tuesday that the military expects to use its existing landholdings on Guam. That land should be enough to hold additional military operations and housing, officials have said.
But Leaf added that land would not be enough to accommodate military training needs or housing for the civilian and contracted workforce expected to grow with the military buildup.
Leaf said the military would look to the local market to house workers and hopes to look to the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas islands for training.
In Guam, local residents will start seeing physical signs of the expansion in 18 months to two years. The interim, he said, will be about preparation of lands, contracts and other needs to get the move under way.
“I think beyond the meetings and the headlines and the generation of business, it will be a year and a half to two years before there’s a noticeable change in activity level,” Leaf said. “And, after two years of this preparatory stage, you’ll begin to see a buildup into the significant construction. So it sounds like it’s a long ways off but if we look at the last two years we know that it will go by in a flash.”
What happens next?
Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, has been working for nine months on the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan. He was scheduled to meet with his advisory committee a final time on Wednesday (Tuesday, Hawaii time) before sending the plan to Adm. William Fallon, the commander of Pacific Command, for final approval.
Leaf is to fly to Washington, D.C., next week to brief officials. His office also is responsible for briefing Japanese officials; Japan is putting $6.1 billion toward the estimated $10.3 billion cost for the move. In August, Leaf will visit Guam to meet with local officials and to listen to community concerns, he said.