Guam – The U.S. Government Accountability Office or GAO released another report concluding that the Department of Defense needs to come up with more reliable cost estimates and further planning for the proposed Guam military buildup. DOD is currently estimating the cost to be around $12.1 billion dollars but the GAO says that estimate is unreliable.
The GAO says this estimate is based on a number of assumptions and they recommend that DOD come up with reliable cost estimates, an integrated master plan for the realignment, a mechanism to share annual updates on it’s status, and sustainment requirements for affected facilities until the realignment of initiatives are complete.
Guam U.S. military realignment Chairman Senator frank Aguon Jr. says, “Well first of all I think we need to recognize that DOD certainly concurs with the general recommendations of the GAO. and then we also need to recognize that if we turn the clock back in May of last year the numbers were redefined we were initially talking about 10,500 marines relocating into Guam prior to that time line but then in May of last year they changed the entire equation where 4,700 would be assigned to Guam 2,700 would be assigned to the state of Hawaii and then about 2,200 hundred to Australia,” said Aguon.
Because the scope of the buildup has changed, DOD now has to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before it can proceed with any plans. Senator Aguon says that DOD will probably be able to come up with a more reliable estimate once this SEIS is done. “Until the Supplemental EIS comes out and the preferred one two and three locations are identified it’s extremely difficult for the military to come out with more precise cost estimates of what the facility are gonna be because putting the cantonment and a firing range in the North of Guam most likely will not cost as much as putting it in a whole new location in the southern part of the island,” said Senator Aguon.
The House Armed Services Committee recently passed it’s version of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act which includes $120 million dollars in civilian infrastructure needs for the Guam buildup, $495 million for MILCON, and ends restrictions on Japan funds for the realignment that were put in by the senate in the 2013 budget.
Will this GAO report which essentially says that DOD needs more details in it’s plans and estimates affect the passage of this defense bill especially considering the fact that spending for the buildup has been repeatedly blocked in the senate because of a lack of detailed planning? Senator Frank Aguon Jr. thinks it depends on whether or not DOD can provide congress with a master plan, something he understands that DOD was supposed to provide sometime this summer. “If that master plan is provided a lot of it is going to be contingent on the timing. Let’s say for example the budget was passed by the House of Representatives if that goes before the U.S. Senate in the next two weeks and that master plan is not provided to the U.S. Senators then it gives them every reason to question investing in the military relocation,” said Senator Aguon.
If DOD provides the master plan soon enough then Senator Aguon believes there’s a good chance of getting the House Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA passed.