Guam – Defense Secretary Robert Gates has assured Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo that the Department of Defense backs the Guam War Reparations compromise, but while DoD continues to support funding for Guam infrastructure, he cautioned that the military build-up won’t happen until the Futenma replacement issued has been settled in Japan.
Bordallo told Gates at a Defense Budget hearing that the people of Guam are being asked for more land for firing ranges at Pagat and the main base area for the build-up, adding resolution of war claims will be “critical.”
Bordallo asked Gates if DoD still supports her compromise version of HR 44 that excludes payments to descendants of those who suffered during Guam’s occupation.
GATES: “Well, as Deputy Secretary Lynn testified, we continue to support the Department of Justice position on this.” [Which is the compromise offering reparations to living survivors, not descendants of survivors who have subsequently died].
BORDALLO: “So, I guess the answer would be ‘yes’ ?”
Bordallo then asked Gates about the status of the base realignment on Okinawa from Futenma to Camp Schwab, where Okinawa’s Governor still hasn’t signed a landfill permit, and other issues are unsettled.
GATES: “I discussed this when I was in Japan, just a few weeks ago. I feel like the Japanese Government is making a serious effort to resolve the Futenma issue. My hope is that we will get resolution, particularly on the configuration of the airfield, or the runways, perhaps, later this spring.”
But until the Futenma replacement issue is settled, Gates says of the Guam Build-Up, “We are not in a position to go forward,” adding, “troops don’t leave Okinawa, and lands don’t get returned to the Japanese.”
Gates who plans to retire later this year, said he expects to be around for several more months to continue work with Bordallo and House Armed Services on the Okinawa Realignment and Guam Build-Up.
Separately, Bordallo slammed a House Republican plan to cut OIA’s budget by $6.5 million or 7%, as part of a larger, must-pass stop-gap funding bill to keep the government open for the rest of this fiscal year.
She argued the money proposed to be cut has funded disaster mitigation, coral reef conservation, modernization of the Port of Guam, and the Brown Tree Snake eradication.
Bordallo called it “another example of the majority’s lack of concern for over 4-million residents of the U-S territories.”