Navy’s Pfannenstiel Reassures Guthertz, Administration Still Committed to Buildup

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Guam – Assistant Navy Secretary Jackalyne Pfannenstiel has reassured Buildup Committee Chair Senator Judi Guthertz that the “U.S. Government remains committed to the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.”

And, in a letter to Guthertz, Pfannenstiel says that the U.S. Government has also received assurances from Tokyo that the Japanese Government also remains committed to the relocation, despite the triple disasters in March.

Read Assistant Navy Secretary Pfannenstiel’s letter to Senator Guthertz

Pfannenstiel’s letter was written on June 9th, prior to Tuesday’s Senate Subcommittee hearing at which Senator Claire McCaskill announced her Subcommittee’s intention to freeze Guam buildup funding until DoD presents a Master Plan and details the exact costs of the realignment.

However, Pfannenstiel does address the concerns raised by Senator’s Webb, McCain and Levin who called the current realignment plan for East Asia unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable.

She says she is well aware of  what the Senators have said,  but their proposals must be examined in terms of their impact on global military operations and their impact on the U.S.-Japan alliance. She makes it clear that a final decision on what they propose is far from being made.

“Accordingly,” writes Pfannenstiel, “it would be speculative and premature to forecast their impact on the buildup as we currently have planned. The Department [of the Navy] will continue to work with Congress to address their concerns and secure necessary funds to support construction on Guam.”

READ Senator Guthertz’s release in FULL below:

NAVY’S ASSISTANT SECRETARY PFANNENSTIEL REASSURES SENATOR GUTHERTZ ABOUT THE BUILDUP: ‘U.S. GOVERNMENT REMAINS COMMITTED TO RELOCATION OF MARINES’

In a well timed letter, following a day in which U.S. Senate budget conferees discussed the cost and future of the Guam military buildup, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jackalyne Pfannenstiel has told Military Buildup Chairperson Judi Guthertz that, “[T]he U.S. Government remains committed to the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.”

Secretary Pfannenstiel added that the United States has received similar assurances from Japan, despite the devastating disasters there in recent months.

Pfannenstiel said she recognized the sweeping fever to cut spending in Washington and agreed with Senator Guthertz that both governments must make responsible choices in spending the billions of dollars involved in the massive project.

“As we conducted our planning efforts, including taking into consideration concerns raised by yourself and the public, we identified issues regarding the island’s infrastructure and learned more of the needs of the civilian community,” Pfannenstiel wrote, noting that while such ‘add-ons’ could add to the overall cost of the buildup and might have to be trimmed along with its other budget elements.

“While we are committed to mitigating the impacts of the relocation, we must look for cost-effective ways to do so.”

Secretary Pfannenstiel said she was well aware of recent statements by U.S. Senators Webb and Levin, which proposed what some view as the end of the Guam military buildup as previously outlined.

Pfannenstiel made clear that such changes would have to be thoroughly assessed as to both impact on military operations and the global, U.S.-Japan alliance and such a decision is far from being made.

“Accordingly, it would be speculative and premature to forecast their impact on the buildup as we currently have planned. The Department [of the Navy] will continue to work with Congress to address their concerns and secure necessary funds to support construction on Guam.”