Navy delays release of Guam buildup plan
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy announced Thursday it would delay the release of its military buildup plan for Guam until later this month, so it could consider hundreds of concerns submitted by the island’s residents and officials.
The plan, which was to have been made public on Friday, will specify how, where and when the Navy will create new facilities for a missile defense unit, visiting aircraft carriers and for 8,600 Marines and families to be transferred from Okinawa.
The release now is scheduled for Sept. 20, because the Navy is weighing comments collected in recent weeks from Guam government agencies, politicians and the public, according to a news release from the Guam Joint Program Office.
Concerns over a rapid expansion, population growth and the use of ancestral Chamorro land still linger across Guam after a yearlong study by the Navy that included public input.
Last month, the Guam governor’s office submitted to the Navy about 200 comments from agencies and about 1,000 letters of concern from residents.
Gov. Felix Camacho said Thursday the delay will allow the Navy time to review the additional input, which is not part of the formal federal process for expanding military facilities but was still accepted by the military.
“This will help ensure that the federal government has a better understanding of our island’s concerns, and we are hopeful that with this additional time, they will find ways to satisfactorily address our concerns,” Camacho said in a released statement.
Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam’s non-voting delegate to Congress, issued a statement saying the Navy can now “give more thought to alternative proposals on key issues such as transit [aircraft] carrier berthing location and training range location.”
The move is a key component of a major U.S. military realignment in the Pacific region that includes an agreement reached with Japan in 2006 to restructure forces there.
The realignment has been a slow process, especially in Japan, where the previous prime minister resigned after being unable to fulfill a campaign promise to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma operations off of Okinawa.