Guam – Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jackalyne Pfannenstiel met with the mayors council of Guam Thursday morning. She presented the Mayors with a new option for Pagat firing range one that sources say she is currently on island trying to sell.
Assistant Secretary Jackalyne Pfannenstiel says she’s on island for what she calls a listening tour, but sources say she is really on island to sell locals on a revised firing range plan for Pagat. “Now we’re at a point with the buildup where we really need to move forward,” said Pfannenstiel adding, “I’m here this time to talk to as many people as i can and ask some very fundamental questions and they are what do we need to do?” Pfannenstiel was referring to what DOD needs to do to get more local support for the buildup. “What will work? What will help bring the people of Guam to a point of welcoming the marines?” she asked.
Sources say that Pfannenstiel is on island to pitch a new plan for the Pagat firing range complex one that would allow for 24 hour access to the ancient village of Pagat and the Pagat caves and one that would involve some sort of land swap where DOD would give back some of it’s property. In fact she pitched these ideas today to the mayors council. “If that access was un-empeded if there was no constraint at all getting to the cave and to the village would that make an enormous difference would that then remove the opposition to using that area for training ranges?” asked Pfannenstiel.
Malesso Mayor Ernest Chargulaf said that he couldn’t speak for the activists who are against using Pagat as a firing range complex but he does feel that even allowing 24 hour access may not appease everyone because it is considered by many sacred ground. “Even the American Indians would recognize that their burial grounds are sacred so anything you do that’s gonna affect it you don’t wanna awaken the dead you don’t wanna do something that would either desecrate or disturb the peace,” said Chargulaf.
Mayors continued to bring up concerns about the use of Pagat as a firing range complex and particularly the fact that DOD already has a third of the land on Guam. Pfannenstiel replied saying, “We would like to hear whether it would make sense if we could provide training but not impede access. Whether we can offer land somewhere else so we wouldn’t have an increase in the footprint.”
In fact Pfannenstiel even pitched this idea to Guam senators during a meeting this morning. Acting Speaker Tina Muna Barnes explained saying, “There were talks about if she needed to use Pagat could there be some possible land exchange land giving and of course again these were just some ideas thinking outside of the box and i said you know its what the people of Guam want knowing that we already have a national historic preservation trust and the guam preservation trust filing suit against the Department of Defense.”
Although Pagat was a focal point it wasn’t the only concern mayors brought up. They asked that any future meetings about the buildup be held on Guam instead of places like Hawaii, they asked that more money be put into community recreational facilities, they asked for better treatment when trying to obtain surplus equipment through the military’s DRMO, and they brought up social concerns about controlling the crime rate and the increase in traffic.