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Back Letter to the Editor Guam has nothing for Marines

Guam has nothing for Marines

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AFTER reading last week’s article about Marine 3rd MEF HQ and 31st MEU remaining on Okinawa, I would question what Marines are left to come to Guam. If you look at the Marines organization chart for Okinawa and subtract the Marines not leaving and the Marines that aren't really on Okinawa, there aren't any Marines coming to Guam. The Marine’s 3rd Brigade hasn't really been on Okinawa for years.

By law, the Marines have five missions. The first being providing a band for the President and Vice President – Guam gets no Marines for this mission. The second mission is to provide security at U.S. Embassies – Guam gets no Marines for this mission either. The third mission is to secure forward Navy bases, but Guam gets no Marines for this mission. The fourth mission is to provide the U.S. military with experts in amphibious landing and Guam gets no Marines for this mission either. The fifth mission is any mission assigned by the President. In the past, the President has assigned the Marines to humanitarian missions and military operations support, but Guam gets no Marines for this mission.

This last Marine mission includes training to “fight” and “fighting,” neither of which can be done on Guam. HQ has always said the Marines are coming to Guam, as long as it doesn't reduce “readiness.” That always meant no Marines were coming to Guam until there were first-class training facilities on the island. The U.S. government occupies about a quarter of Okinawa and has vast training areas and facilities on the island. Guam doesn’t want the Marines to have a firing range, never mind the urban assault range, amphibious landing training area, or jungle training area that haven’t been mentioned yet. Then there is the heavy weapon firing range that will be needed.

Over the next five years the Marines are reducing by 30,000 soldiers. I’m not sure what a “deterrent” Marine is, but I suspect that “deterrent” Marines will be the first go.

In order to go on temporary duty, or TDY, Federal employees (Marines) – unlike GovGuam employees – must certify that there is no other way to accomplish the mission. My question is: “WHAT IS THE MISSION OF MARINES ON GUAM?” No mission, no Marines! No mission, no TDY Marines. If the mission is “deterrent” then the Air Force, Army Reserve and Navy on Guam provide at least as much deterrent as 5,000 Marines. The U.S. Congress will be just as mad if China kills 500 U.S. soldiers as it would be if they kill 5,000 U.S. Marines.

The Okinawa bases cost the federal government much less than Guam bases. The Japanese government spends $2 billion per year supporting the U.S. troops in Japan. Construction costs are less in Japan than Guam as Japan is on a major supply route and Guam isn't. The Federal government collects taxes from soldiers stationed on Okinawa and doesn't collect federal tax if the soldiers are stationed on Guam for more than six months.

If DOD gets another round of BRAC, the Navy on Guam will be first on the list as the most expensive Navy base in the USA. Although Andersen Air Force Base is probably a little further down the list as a convenient gas station and regional training site, it is still the Air Force's most expensive USA base.

Finally, I don’t think the Guam Legislature has the power to kill the buildup even if it really wanted it killed. The Federal government has the power to condemn the entire island and throw every one off. The Legislature did make some really stupid moves if it wanted the buildup, like it now says. Dumb number one was giving land to individuals and including in the deed that they couldn’t sell or lease the land to the Federal government. This is unconstitutional. Dumb number two is asking the Federal government to not condemn land for the buildup and believing the Navy when they said they would comply. The Federal government has to pay fair market value for all land it acquires – no more, no less. In reality, that means that almost all land acquired by the Federal government requires court condemnation. Dumb number three is believing that a U.S. Congressman does anything that doesn’t directly or indirectly benefit the Federal taxpayers of his state.

In my opinion, Guam should stop worrying about how to get the buildup restarted and concentrate on how to keep the Navy base open. If the Navy base makes the BRAC list again, the Chamorro Land Trust will have lots of $1-per-acre land to pass out.

Charles Adams,
Northvale, N.J.
Former resident of Tamuning

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