Guam – Intelligence and national security experts are on Guam for a two day closed door conference organized by the local non-profit Guam military buildup lobbyist group called GUASA, the Guam-U.S.-Asia Security Alliance.
The conference is focusing on the role of Guam and the Marianas in America’s national security interests in the Asia Pacific region. Although our cameras were not allowed inside the conference, we were allowed to interview some of the presenters outside of the meeting.
PNC cameras were not allowed to film any portions of the GUASA security conference held in Tumon even though Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, a public official, was delivering the luncheon keynote address. In fact the Congresswoman was not even available for an interview before or after the conference.
However, we were allowed to interview conference presenters outside of the conference during their breaks. Global Strategies and Transformation President Carl Ford is the conference moderator. “We’re here having a two day conference to talk about security issues in East Asia and we’re very much focused also on where Guam fits in to all of that,” said Fprd.
This is the focus of this conference. What is Guam’s role in the national security plans for the United States particularly when it comes to security in the Asia-Pacific region? “The importance of Guam the Marianas and other islands is that they’re Americans they’re U.S. citizens and so that this is the closest we are,” said Ford adding, “You’re part of the spear point of American interests throughout Asia all the way from Northeast Asia Korea Japan all the way through Southeast Asia.”
Another reason for the conference is to get all of the experts to come to Guam to see the island for themselves. Yesterday they toured the bases. “Most of them were given a grand tour of the Naval facilities, Andersen and the new THAAD battery and so they’ve really gotten a much better appreciation of how large our facilities already are here on Guam,” said Ford. Ford came a few days early and had the opportunity to tour Saipan and Tinian. “My eyes were opened particularly in terms of Tinian and how much area there is there for the marines and others to play with and I think that as the buildup continues we’re going to be able to work out plans that satisfy the military but more important satisfy the people that are gonna have to put up with us in our noise and our activities here,” said Ford.
The ultimate goal of the conference is to gather information prepare a report and bring it back to Washington D.C. “These people are also gonna take the message back to Washington many of the people that are here Dr. Cronin, General Gregson, Admiral Wright, Randy Schriver, Sak Sakota, all of these people are well known in Washington and so they are gonna be able to take the message back to the White House to the Defense Department to the State Department and say listen here’s what we learned this is what you ought to think about in terms of East Asia and Guam in particular,” said Ford.
However local attorney and “We are Guahan” member Leevin Camacho say this concerns him. “Part of the problem that we’ve had from day one going back to 2009 is that these are people from Washington D.C. coming to Guam making decisions about Guam without input from the people of Guam. This conference is an example of that where we have a two day conference for $150 dollars everyone who’s gonna be impacted by this buildup on Guam who can take the days off or afford their entrance fee and the fact that it’s been closed off to the media you know people are entitled to answers as to how this is going to affect the people here not just militarily but socially culturally,” said Camacho.
However Ford says that they are concerned about what locals think. “We’re giving the audience opportunities today and tomorrow to ask questions and make comments because we’re here to listen as well as Talk. Talk, Talk, Talk, we can do that easy we could’ve done that in Washington, but we also want to make sure that we have the local viewpoint as well,” said Ford.
“You’re not gonna talk to the average person on Guam in a two day conference at the Hyatt. You know you really need to go out and look at our schools look at our hospital look at the people who are working 8 to 5 and they are trying to find a house they can rent but they can’t because all the rents being set super high so they can accommodate soldiers. So, these are the impacts that are not gonna be talked about because really it’s all about construction contracts and it’s about military mission and it’s not about the people of Guam,” said Camacho.
Once the conference is complete, Ford says he and some of the other members of the conference panel will put together a report that they will then take to Washington.
The GUASA conference ends Friday.