For the past several months, Governor Lou Leon-Guerrero has been vocal about her plan for a new hospital at Eagles Field in Mangilao. Originally, she set aside $300 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the hospital but was paused as the federal government assessed the legality of it.
“We have been working very closely with the federal government,” the Governor said in a K57 interview. She reported that the federal government had given her the authority to use ARPA funds for the hospital, and according to Krystal Paco-San Agustin, Communication Director for the Governor, were awarded a license to assess Eagles Field as a viable location for the hospital.
But they were not awarded a lease.
In an interview with K57’s Patti Arroyo, Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson, Commander of Joint Region Marianas, reported that the National Defense Agency in Guam is actively looking for a property that would be able to house a missile defense system on the island.
“The National Defense Agency [NDA] sent their folks out here to take a look at the property,” explained Nicholson. He reports that NDA is only looking at property that already belongs to the military because, according to Nicholson, “We don’t want to put stuff in place where we don’t already have possession of the land.”
The Authorization Act
According to Nicolson, the NDA came to Guam after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law. The Act, according to the Rear-Admiral, appropriated a significant sum of money for a missile defense system for the island.
The NDA had begun searching for viable plots of land to house the defense system.
In NDA’s initial study, they had not identified Eagles Field as a potential location for a defense system. However, later information revealed that the defense system would require multiple plots of land throughout the island “to completely defend the island and this portion of the region,” said Nicholson.
A second study, which is ongoing, has identified Eagles Field as a candidate for that defense system.
“The situation has changed,” said Nicholson. “At the time of the original discussions of the hospital complex were taking place, the missile defense system really wasn’t a player.”
The Governor’s Backup Plans
According to the Governor’s Chief Adviser for Military and Regional Affairs Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the Office of the Governor is already looking at other candidates for the hospital. One suggestion is near the marine lab at the University of Guam.
It is all contingent on the NDA’s decision. According to Nicholson, “If the missile defense agency comes in, and says, ‘Nope. We got a perfect place for the defense system and we do not need the area there by Eagles Field,” then certainly, we will go back in and revisit that as a potential location for the hospital because the hospital–especially in a lease environment–we would then be able to stipulate specific things built into the hospital that have some specific value to the military.”