Guam – Guam Governor Eddie Calvo reportedly told Japan’s Kyodo News Service in Tampa last week that he is “open to the possibility of hosting the U.S. military’s Osprey aircraft … assuming concerns about its safety are fully addressed.”
Governor Calvo is quoted in the Kyodo report as saying “If the safety issues could be alleviated, of course I would think it would be positive,” adding “if the Osprey becomes ‘part of that equation’ Guam will need to take a closer look at its safety record.”
The Marines have been planning to deploy the MV-22 Osprey at their Futenma Air Station in Okinawa this October, but that plan has met with strong opposition from Japanese authorities who have raised safety concerns following Osprey crashes earlier this year in Morocco and Florida.
09/06/2012 02:42:27 PM EDT — Japan Economic Newswire
Guam open to Osprey deployment if safety concerns eased: governor
TAMPA, Florida, Sept. 6 — (Kyodo) _ Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo has said he would be open to the possibility of hosting the U.S. military’s Osprey aircraft on the Pacific island, assuming concerns about its safety are fully addressed.
“If the safety issues could be alleviated, of course I would think it would be positive,” Calvo said in a recent interview with Kyodo News about the possibility of hosting the tilt-rotor aircraft, which the United States is planning to deploy later this year in Japan.
Guam is a U.S. territory that is slated to receive almost 5,000 U.S. Marines currently based in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture.
The Marines’ plan to deploy the MV-22 Osprey at the Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa as early as October has faced strong opposition from many residents of the Japanese island, who are concerned about its safety record.
The Marines prize the transport aircraft for its ability to fly like either a helicopter or an airplane. Opponents of the deployment argue it is unusually difficult to fly.
Safety concerns over the deployment in Japan have been amplified by crashes earlier this year involving the aircraft in Morocco and Florida. The Pentagon reports suggest human error was a factor in both crashes.
The Osprey is “not a major factor” in current discussions about U.S. plans to move 4,700 Marines to Guam as part of the realignment of the country’s troop presence in the Asia-Pacific region, Calvo said.
If the Osprey becomes “part of that equation,” Guam will need to take a closer look at its safety record, he added.
That said, the sooner the Marines arrive on Guam the better, the governor said. “It will be a positive impact,” Calvo said, noting that the troops’ presence would be good for local businesses and increase the island’s tax base.
First and foremost, however, the governor sees the Marines as a potential “instrument of stability” in the region.
Regardless of any benefits the Marines might bring, Guam will need “significant” improvements to its infrastructure before they can come, Calvo said.
“Whether it’s 8,000 Marines or 4,000 Marines or 1,500 Marines, we need to get this work done,” he said, adding that any Marine transfer to the island “can’t come at the expense of the lowering of the quality of life for our people.”