Guam – While in D.C. to testify on war reparations Governor Eddie Calvo also spoke to many key officials on the status of the Guam Military Buildup. While he admits there are still questions as to the timing and scope of the buildup he believes it will happen one way or another.
Governor Eddie Calvo says he pressed members of the congress, staffers with the senate armed forces committee and members of the Department of Defense including Under Secretary Robert Work about the importance of keeping funding for the buildup including the social economic appropriations. He also told members of congress how important buildup money is for Guam right now.
“We did advise them that we are in a recession the tourism industry has suffered as a result of the events in Japan we’re at 13 percent unemployment we already have a billion dollars in Japanese money that has been deposited in the treasury our concerns with the senate is they’re saying hold let’s not spend anything until certain milestones are met. As far as we’re concerned if you spend that money now if we can get at least those monies that are already available in the treasury it will stimulate this economy. It will help at least for this American community it will help in lowering some of the high participation in welfare programs that are draining not only the local coffers but also the federal coffers and there will be American businesses that will be benefiting as well,” said Calvo.
The governor also urged them to keep social economic appropriations in their budget for buildup spending on Guam especially in light of the social impacts that are already occurring as a result of service men and women who return from deployment with various mental concerns such as post traumatic stress disorder. “We do have a lot of veterans that are coming in to this island after serving in this country in this island both reservists guardsmen and regular military and when they come back here we don’t have those necessary facilities to deal with mental health issues and that’s why we’re in a very difficult situation we have a third party receivership. so we do believe it’s tied into the military buildup as well and military personel as well,” said Calvo.
Right now the senate has proposed major cuts to Guam’s military buildup and key senators have proposed significantly changing the scope and size of the buildup. But the house has a different spending proposal that does not include these cuts. The senate and the house will have to reconcile the two versions. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has publicly supported the Guam buildup and is against the proposed cuts. So how will all of this play out?
“That’s something even I’m trying to grasp how this reconciliation happens within the congress. They do have major financial and fiscal issues in the congress we did note that the first thing they need to work on and get resolved is lifting the debt ceiling and that is why it was very difficult to focus on issues such as defense appropriations once that occurs then we can see either positive movement or not with regards to these appropriations,” said Calvo.
And if the cuts do happen what does that mean for the buildup? “There may be some disagreements budgetarily in nature and maybe also in policy in terms of what movements will occur here but I think if you look at the standpoint of any one who has a say so in Washington D.C. there will be a buildup on Guam and whether it’s in five years ten years or 20 years we are just too important to the strategic interests of the nation,” said Calvo.
The governor says that Guam will always remain important to the strategic interests of the nation because of it’s proximity to Asia.