Guam official takes aim at DOD plan for firing range
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Guam’s congressional representative wants the Defense Department to abandon plans for military firing ranges on the island.
In a House Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday, Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo questioned Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn over the planned Marine Corps live-fire ranges on ancestral land, according to her office.
The ranges are a controversial part of a planned military buildup on the island that includes moving 8,600 Okinawa Marines to Guam by 2014 and building facilities for visiting aircraft carriers.
The DOD should choose an alternative plan for training ranges, such as “moving the proposed firing range to Tinian or using existing DOD lands on Guam,” Bordallo said in a released statement.
Others on Guam, including the State Historic Preservation Office, have also opposed placing the ranges on the Pagat Village archeological area, which is a federally recognized historic site that contains remnants of the ancient Chamorro culture.
The military released an in-depth environmental study of training range options in July and said Sept. 20 that it prefers to use the Pagat site.
There is no room for the ranges on existing military land and moving them to Tinian, an island about 100 miles away, would be impractical, according to David Bice, the executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office.
For now, the fate of the training ranges is tied up in talks between the Guam Historic Preservation Office and the DOD.
The two groups are trying to strike an agreement over how to handle historic sites during military buildup construction.
State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon sent a letter Tuesday to the Navy outlining various Guam demands, such as protection for Pagat and more public input, that must be met before the island signs an agreement on historic lands.