Washington D.C. – Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin says the Guam military build-up is “on hold,” and he would not speculate on its future.
During a conference call Friday with reporters, Senator Levin answered question’s from PNC’s Washington Correspondent Matt Kaye who files the below report.
Levin complained repeatedly about the costs of the Okinawa-to-Guam realignment, calling it “out of sight” and “unsustainable”—and the Camp Futenma to Camp Schwab relocation in Okinawa: “unachievable.”
He says there was no dissent in the armed services committee to ‘freeze’ the realignment for now and eliminate build-up projects in Guam totalling 156-million—Finegayan utilities site preparation and Marine Corps North Ramp utilities.
“This was not challenged…this language was worked out, basically, by a number of us—Senators Webb and McCain and I, and others—worked out the language that’s in the bill…and that language was discussed, but there was no opposition to it.”
Levin and Webb visited Guam and Tinian in April.
The House authorized over $300-million in build-up related spending, but Levin, Webb and McCain called for a total review of the build-up after their trip.
Levin’s panel also cut $33-million from the Office of Economic adjustment for Guam facilities support…arguing it’s unnecessary in this fiscal year.
But the Chairman seemed to leave an opening for the build-up if the Pentagon—which he criticized for not submitting a Master Plan yet—comes through with a workable plan and lower, more accurate cost estimates—
“We basically are putting these changes on hold…in all three places…in Korea and Guam and Okinawa, while this major review is taking place. I won’t get into technicalities on this…we are not withdrawing our presence or reducing our presence…we are trying to streamline it…and when it comes to the planned relocations…that are planned for all three of these areas…that we do this in a way that is honest, and that is sustainable.”
So, does not mean the long-awaited and planned military build-up with it’s billions in local economic benefits, will still happen?
“I’m not going to speculate, as to where this goes…the major step we’ve taken—and it is a major step—is to put all these changes on hold…and to require some analysis of cost…and to take an honest look at what the current plans are, and what the alternatives are. so, that’s where I’d rather leave it.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo charges the Senators’ proposed cuts “contradict” their own statements that Guam needs infrastructure improvements for the build-up to proceed in a timely fashion.
She complains President Obama already requested funds in his budget…for projects already agreed to by DoD and local leaders in the Programmatic Agreement.
And Bordallo warns that requiring “certain certifications” may harm the build-up’s timing…adding the Senate plan is “not yet law,” and must be reconciled with the house-passed bill that backs the build-up.
But the Senate panel’s decisive and unanimous action—in the middle of a national debt crisis–suggests Bordallo now has one huge fight on her hands.