Owens: Andersen growth to continue
By Gerardo R. Partido Variety News Staff
Marianas Variety Wednesday 15 Nov 06
THE projected growth at Andersen Air Force base will continue despite the replacement of Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Democrats’ takeover of Congress.This was the assurance given yesterday by the 36th Wing’s new commander Brig. Gen. Doug Owens during a media briefing.
Rumsfeld and the previous Republican Congress had been very vocal about their support for Guam as a forward base for the U.S. But despite the change in the U.S. political landscape, Owens said Guam’s strategic location assures that the island will continue to play a significant part in the military’s strategic posture. He added that this was one of the reasons why a general has been assigned at Andersen for the first time.
“General Hester decided that we needed someone more senior to facilitate the growth at Andersen,” Owens said. Military construction is set to boom inside Andersen Air Force Base as the military installation prepares for 3,100 additional active duty personnel and their dependents to be deployed in the next few years. This is in addition to the 8,500 active duty personnel and their dependents already residing inside the base and the impending relocation of some 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa.
“I’m sure military construction appropriations for Guam will continue. Besides, you have a good representative in Congresswoman Bordallo,” Owens said. He pointed out that construction on the new complex that will house the Global Hawk surveillance has already started, as well as work on the Northwest Field. Owens, who spent time on duty in Korea, said Andersen is always prepared in case a crisis erupts with North Korea.
“In my personal opinion, our actions will be consistent with whatever actions North Korea initiates,” Owens said. On a personal note, Owens said he and his wife are “extraordinarily happy” to be on Guam. He added that he was very impressed with the warmth, friendship, and patriotism of the people of Guam and that he would like to stay on island “for a very long time.”
Owens promised to adopt a policy of “openness” to the media, except during times when this is not operationally expedient. He also vowed to work closely with the local community and foster better civilian-military ties.