Guthertz Urges Governor to Immediately Impanel Guam First Commission in Wake of Downsized Buildup Reports

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Guam – Senator Judi Guthertz is calling on Governor Eddie Calvo to immediately impanel the Guam First Commission, in the wake of reports of a downsized Guam buildup.

 

In his State of the Island address this past Tuesday, Governor Calvo said he “will be issuing an executive order impaneling the Guam First Commission advisory body so that all communications with Washington are made with one voice.”

In her letter to the Governor, the Senator writes: “I respectfully urge that you issue the Executive Order within the coming week, announce the empanelling of the advisory body, and schedule the first meeting in earnest.”

READ Senator Guthertz’s letter to Governor Calvo HERE

Referring to the recent reports of a downsized Guam buildup, the Senator argues that convening the Guam First Commission is “especially important in light of increasing reports that the Obama Administration is adjusting its National Defense Policy to reflect a more agile and mobile force in our region.”

She goes on to write that impaneling the “Guam First Commission will help to send a clear, strong, and unified message to Washington, the Defense Department and most importantly our people” and that the Governor could  “pass along sentiments of the new board on the buildup during his trip to Washington later this month.”

READ Senator Guthertz’s release in FULL below:

SENATOR GUTHERTZ TELLS GOVERNOR CALVO THAT NEW DETAILS ON GUAM BUILDUP/REALIGNMENT CALL FOR IMMEDIATE
EMPANELLING OF GUAM FIRST COMMISSION ADVISORY BOARD

Only a few days after Guam Governor Eddie Baza announced he would appoint an advisory board to the Guam First Commission long advocated by
Senators Judi P. Guthertz and Rory Respicio, two news reports out of Washington offered the outlines of a new buildup strategy that would include a smaller number of Marines and require a scaled back number of support facilities.

This is especially important in light of increasing reports that the Obama Administration is adjusting its National Defense Policy to reflect a more agile
and mobile force in our region,‛ Senator Guthertz wrote to Governor Calvo in her letter, which also suggested Calvo might want to pass along sentiments of the new board on the buildup during his trip to Washington later this month.

Senator Guthertz, Chairman of the Guam Committee on the Military Buildup and Homeland Security did not find the smaller number of Marines to be sent to Guam according to a Bloomberg News report surprising.

It is reassuring to see a more realistic and manageable number of Marines, reported at approximately 4500, projected for the Guam buildup,‛ her letter
said.

The Guam First Commission will help to send a clear, strong, and unified message to Washington, the Defense Department and most importantly our people, that we are indeed a patriotic community that welcomes our Marines, and indeed, as reflected in the storied history of Guam’s sons and daughters serving our nation’s military, all members of the United States Armed Forces.

More important however, Senator Guthertz, said was the claim within the report that the refusal of Okinawans to go along with terms of the U.S.-Japan
agreement to move the Marines out of Okinawa had been resolved.

The Obama administration’s plans to move forces out of Japan are no longer contingent on progress in building a new site for the Futenma airbase on
Okinawa according to people familiar with the plan,‛ according to the Bloomberg story.

Senator Guthertz said the decision to proceed without a decision to move the Futenma Marine Base to a less populated area could likely speed up shipping the Marines to Guam.

However, a later story by another news service, Reuters, questioned whether the Futenma decision was really final, based on a briefing of reporters in
Tokyo by Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba, who told them: “The report [the Bloomberg report] may generate misunderstanding. We are
in talks with the U.S. side, with flexibility in our mind, to seek ways to advance the relocation of Futenma airbase and the shift of Okinawa-based
U.S. Marines to Guam, while upholding policy of reducing the burden on Okinawa in a timely manner and maintaining deterrent effects … nothing has
been finalized.”

There are also a number of issues to be resolved outside of the Japan-US talks, including the currently frozen buildup budget in Washington and conditions imposed for unfreezing it, such as a final Marine ‘lay down’ plan for Corps activities in Guam and a final plan for the overall buildup that would spell out requirements to meet infrastructure needs of the Guam civilian population.

“The Marine Lay down Plan and the Guam Buildup Master plan are being finalized by the Pentagon and we in Guam should be hearing more about
these critical documents as soon as they are approved by the Secretary of Defense. the President, and after they are finally submitted to the Congress as
required by the National Defense Authorization Act,” Guthertz said. “These documents are critical for the Buildup to proceed.”