It’s the first week of a new year, but we’re already being reminded that when it comes to the military buildup, the interests of Guam always bring up the rear of United States concerns in its negotiations with Japan over the military buildup.
As you saw on the front page of yesterday’s Variety, a Japanese newspaper is reporting that Japan and the U.S. have agreed that some of the training functions of two squadrons of F-15s at Kadena Air Base will be transferred to Andersen AFB as soon as this year. This agreement may be finalized within days.
It is pretty remarkable how fast our national government can move when it is motivated.
As far as I am concerned as a Legislator and the Chair of the Committee on the U.S. Military Buildup, the takeaway from this development is that once again, Guam continues to be taken for granted as a U.S. territory and granted no say or consultative role in such negotiations.
Once again we’re forced to react to foreign newspaper reports without the slightest ‘heads up’ on their truth or accuracy from what is supposed to be our side. Not surprisingly, we haven’t heard a word lately from our friends at JGPO and Washington officials concerned with the buildup apparently took a long holiday break.
This is not to say that there isn’t plenty to discuss in this new year. Those who gave a few minutes of thought to yesterday’s headline, certainly must be wondering what the implications are for the stretched out schedule of the buildup. I believe that our community is entitled to some words of explanation, even if they are somewhat belated and I’ll look to Assistant Secretary of the Navy Jaqueline Pfannenstiel to fill in the details about this stealthy F-15 training plan.
The major developments of the buildup are now out in the open—we hope—but you have to wonder how many other little surprises like this are ahead. If the report is true, this will come at the start of the buildup when all the actions to mitigate its impact are still in the planning rather than construction phase. I don’t have any problem with repeating myself when I point out, once again, that I have yet to see the money or project plans for Guam that will make the buildup a ‘win-win’ for both the military and civilian communities here.
If other unwanted changes occur, we have options left as the architects of the buildup found when loud protest of the peaceful sort forced modification or change to some of the more egregious provisions revealed by the environmental impact statement process. We’ll continue to exercise the rights and privileges of every other U.S. place and U.S. citizen in 2011.
Many Americans, including those of us on Guam, like to think of our country as exceptional in the world. Watching developments of the buildup, I am left with the feeling that many of our visitors from Washington and elsewhere in the U.S. government don’t immediately grasp the exceptionalism of Guam. We are truly a very small place and anyone who chooses to come here is sharing sharply limited resources with every islander, calling for careful planning and consideration of others.
As 2011 proceeds for Guam, let’s stay together and demand a military buildup that is, yes, once again, a ‘win-win’ for all of us.