Myths & Facts of the Military Buildup on Guam

The REAL STORY behind the Military Buildup:

ECONOMY

Myth: The military buildup will be great for Guam’s economy.

Fact: The DEIS states that very little money will go into Guam’s economy.
According to the report, most contracts will go to large off-island
companies, not to local contractors. Most money spent by the 80,000
newcomers will be spent on base, at companies also based on-island, not at
local businesses. The 40,000 low-paid workers imported from the Philippines
will not spend their money on Guam, but will send most of it back home.

In addition, the military conducted a separate report which revealed that
the cost of living will rise, but wages will remain low.

Guam Housing Urban Renewal Authority Executive Director, Benny Pinaula, does
not feel the buildup will help keep housing affordable.

How will GovGuam fare during the buildup? Eddie Calvo explained that the
buildup will cost GovGuam millions of dollars to maintain roads, to upgrade
wastewater treatment and by taking revenue from the port. Calvo recently
wrote that the $50 million appropriated for roads within the 2010 Defense
Budget is “a drop in the bucket to what is required to expand the roads and
harden bridges to handle the thousands of containers and workers that will
be arriving on island.”

Calvo also pointed out that EPA has ordered the local government to spend
nearly $300 million dollars to develop secondary wastewater treatment
facilities. Though the military will ultimately be end-users of the northern
facilities, it appears that the local government will bear the brunt of the
upfront costs, resulting from EPA’s edict.

According to Calvo, it has been discovered that commercial cargo has been
shipping out of the Navy side of the harbor. If this trend is a portend of
things to come, this may cost the local government millions of dollars in
lost revenue in the years to come.

To sum things up, the military build up will not help local Guam businesses,
will not be an economic boost for local Guam residents and will cost Guam’s
government millions of dollars. (However, stateside contractors will make a
large profit from the buildup.)

NOT A “DONE DEAL”

Myth: The Guam Buildup is a “done deal.”

Fact: The Military Buildup is NOT a “done deal,” as the PDN would have us
believe. There are many variables that need to take place in order for it to
happen.

The buildup depends on what Japan decides to do. The U.S. is relying on
Japan building an additional base on Okinawa in order for the troops to
transfer from there to Guam. However, Japan doesn’t want to build another
base. Japan could make a decision that significantly delays the buildup, or
even prevents it entirely.

Especially since the economic downturn, the Pentagon has been uncertain
about the expenses of the buildup (see this article from as recently as May
2009: “Pentagon Reconsiders Pricey Guam Move” at
http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0509/050709cdam1.htm )

However, the arch-conservative Heritage-Foundation element of the Pentagon
has been behind this buildup from the start, and is counting on Congress to
sign off to spend the billions of dollars it will take to make it happen.
But, right now, the U.S. is more financially stressed than it has ever been.
In fact, here’s a quote from today’s Japan Times:

“If Tokyo chooses another path (other than the original 2006 plan to move
Futenma Air Base), the U.S. officials said Congress would not earmark
spending for the relocation of 8,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam, the
official accompanying Shimoji said.

Earlier in the week, Congress agreed to earmark spending for the relocation
to Guam after restoring a substantial part of the fiscal 2010 budget bill.
The U.S. side’s comments indicate that Washington is unwilling to set a
budget for the matter for fiscal 2011 if no decision is reached on Futenma.”

So, it isn’t a “done deal” after all.

WATER

Myth: There will be no problem supplying water to 80,000 new people on Guam.
All we need to do is drill 22 more wells.

Fact: False. Twenty-two new wells will deplete our freshwater source. If
there were enough water for that many more people, the DEIS would not have
listed a desalination plant as a long-term solution. Desalination plants
have adverse effects on the environment; and building one would make the
people of Guam dependent on the military for the most basic resource for
life – water.

SOCIAL AND CULTURAL CONFLICTS

Myth: People living on the base and civilians will live together
harmoniously, as “one.”

Fact: The buildup will create three distinct classes: 1) the military, who
will be given expensive homes and good salaries; 2) the local people, who
will be marginalized as second-class citizens and 3) 40,000 “temporary
workers” who will be housed in barracks.

Billions of dollars are slated to be poured into construction inside the
fence, while THERE ARE NO PLANS TO SPEND ANY MONEY OUTSIDE THE FENCE, except
for road construction (not maintenance). There will be no money to help the
current systems deal with infrastructure inadequacies or the expected rise
in crime.

The difference between “inside the fence” and “outside the fence” will be
more evident within our education system than it already is. There is
already a big difference between the quality of education between the DODEA
schools and local public schools.

Medical care and other social services will share similar problems. While
military personnel on-island will receive better funded care, the thousands
of additional people will overwhelm Guam’s already stressed medical and
social services.

Meanwhile, who will monitor and enforce the abuse of the temporary workers,
most of whom will be from the Philippines?There is already a problem
regarding huge human-rights and labor abuse on Guam. Human-rights violations
will most likely get worse.

CROWDING

Bottom line: More people, less land.

At first, the DOD told residents that the buildup would increase the
population by 40,000. However, they were always aware that the figure was
really 80,000 — double that! Unfortunately, no one told the people of Guam
until the day the EIS was released (November 20).

The military is eyeing an additional 3,900 acres to take, including the FAA
property, which was supposed to have been given back. The total amount of
land they want is one and a half times the size of Barrigada.

NO MORE GREEN SPACE

Most of the four- and two- lane roads in the north will be widened to six-
and seven-land highways.

The greenery in the north will be removed, not just for road work, but to
house many of the 80,000 new people. One hundred acres of jungle will be
replaced by a camp for 40,000 low-wage laborers. More jungle will be razed
to make way for the $750,000 dollar homes for the troops. These homes will
be soundproofed to protect those inside from the noise of the new landing
pad. Local homes just outside the gate will not have such sound protection.

STRESSED INFRASTRUCTURE

As 80,000 newcomers create waste and stress on our utilities and roads, the
local people must cope with the burdened electrical system, continual road
maintenance, limited water supply and thousands of tons of additional
sewage.

PAGAT

The limestone forest that stretches from Marbo Caves to Pagat Caves is being
considered for use as a firing range, where the military can practice
shooting and bombing. The land belongs to several families who have been
caring for it for decades, choosing to not develop because they prize the
land for its inherent values. Their efforts to keep the land pristine have
made it  more desireable for the military. The site in Pagat is registered
at the Department of Historic Preservation as an archaeological site.

MOUNT JUMULLONG MANGLO

This holy mountain, where thousands of island residents pilgrimage every
year on Good Friday, is also being considered for use as a firing range.
This is disrespectful of local Chamorro traditions.

DESTRUCTION OF REEF AND FISHING IN APRA HARBOR

Twenty-five acres of reef is slated to be dredged. The sediment churned up
by the dredging will kill the coral that is not plowed up and the fish
population. According to Manny Duenas, president of the Fisherman’s Co-op,
the dredging will “affect Guam in itself because we know the fish don’t just
live in one area.”

Destruction to Guam’s undersea life will take place through regularly
scheduled underwater detonations as part of war games training.

LARGEST MANGROVE FOREST ON U.S. SOIL DESTROYED

The dredging at Apra Harbor will destroy the mangrove forest there.

SEA TURTLE AND SPINNER DOLPHIN HABITAT DESTROYED

The green sea turtle, the Hawksbill sea turtle and the Spinner dolphin, all
protected by federal law, will be wiped out in Apra Harbor.

We are trading endangered species and their ecosystems for a nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier.

DESTRUCTION OF NATIVE MEDICINAL PLANTS

The hundreds of acres of jungle to be destroyed or contaminated contains
native plants used in traditional medicine. To destroy these plants is to
destroy Guam’s Chamorro heritage.

HAZARDOUS AND TOXIC WASTE

The total amount of hazardous waste produced by the increased military
presence will equal 8 tons per year! (according to the DEIS)

The DEIS refuses to disclose all of the toxic and hazardous materials they
will be storing; this is most likely because they are radioactive and banned
from the shores of most countries.  Our island is still in the process of
decontaminating land and removing toxic materials left behind by the
military; and many older generations of Guamanians boast an abnormally high
cancer rate resulting from previous exposure to radiation by the military.

DEPLETION OF REEF RESOURCES BY H-2 WORKERS

What little reef resources are left may be quickly depleted by the underpaid
foreign workers who tend to comb the reefs for food.

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8 thoughts on “Myths & Facts of the Military Buildup on Guam

  1. Many of your Facts are misguided. For example lets start at the top.

    (1) 80000 Thousand New Comers. Wow thats a lot of people. Chances are the Military isn’t going to show up until many of the construction workers have left the area. Sort of like building a hotel, you have no guest until building is complete. I wouldn’t count on an influx of more then 35000 at any given time.

    (2) $50 Million for roads…. Actually the number is $1 Billion for roads as written in the agreement between the US & Japan. So the $50 Million is only 5% of the $1 Billion. The $1 Billion will be coming from the 50 Tax Revenue Generating States to support this, keep in mind all to Guams “Fed Tax” stays on island. So your correct that $50 Million is a “Drop in the bucket” for what will happen.

    (3) $300 Million to develop a secondary wastewater treatment facilities. Not a bad deal considering that this plant will also receive the Monthly Fees, from the new “Customer Base”

    (4) The commercial cargo going out of the NAVY side of the harbor, has happened before the buildup. Not sure what this has to do with the buildup?????

    (5) You are absolutly correct in saying that this is not a done deal. This is a Japan Initiative not a US Initiative. There is no military advantage to move the forces from OKI to Guam. However if Japan is willing to fund the deal then this may not be a big issue.

    (6) Water…. 80000 Again…. unless “Tourism” drastically picks up you will not see an 80000 update. I’m not sure where you feel 22 More wells will deplete the aquafers???? With an adverage of 80″ to 100″ of rain a year, there isn’t much chance of draining the aquafers.

    (7) Why do you think that “Military Homes” homes will be expensive? I did read once were someone took the estimated $10B and used the other estimated 1250 Units that needed to be built and came up with a magic $750K number….. Remember Barrack’s are going to be built, so the 3 & 4 Man per rooms are not that “Expensive”.

    (8) Pagat is being looked at as a Rifle Range however no Bombing has been identified.

    Please check your “Facts”

  2. bong, thanks for posting your opinions here, even though they are completely wrong. you need to reread the DEIS. c

  3. csperez as you suggested

    (1) I cannot find in the DEIS where the 80000 population increase is mentioned, perhaps you can point it out. Again the total buildup of Military Personnel (many Dependants) is still estimated to be 20K. I would not expect the “Military” to ship in dependent personnel before they can support them.

    (2) As for the Roads programs I recommend that you read the agreement between the GOJ and the US at http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/agree0902.pdf since the DEIS does not mention the “Cost” of the road plans needed. Then with basic math you can divide $1B by 50M and will see that the 50M is 5% of the road projects……

    (3) There is no mention of the GOV of Guam required to build any Water Treatment Plant in the DEIS, however there is mention that if any were to be built that they would not effect any wetlands.

    (4) Commercial Cargo going out of the Navy Port is not mentioned in the DEIS.

    (5) Agree the DPRI is not a done deal……

    (6) Water Per the DEIS “Under all alternatives, groundwater production is expected to increase by a total of no more than approximately 16.2 MGd (61.7 mld), from the Gana, Mangilao, Andersen, Agafa-Gumas, Finegayan, and Yigo-Tumon subbasins (NAVFAC Pacific 2008). When this increase is added to existing pumping rates, the new projected pumping rate of 54.7 MGd (207 mld) would still be less than the sustainable yield of 80.5 MGd (304.7 mld). The Navy recently initiated a study to re-evaluate the sustainable yield of the NGLA. The results of the re-evaluation will be incorporated into future versions of the EIS/OEIS.”

    (7) Again no statement on “How Much” the base housing is going to cost. I guess “Expensive” would need to be defined. Again the $750000.00 Homes in you post is not correct.

    (8) Again no bombing is defined, only rifle ranges…..

  4. Craig, No I’m not with the DoD, I’m a Merchant Marine. I did do a tour with the Marines in the Late 60’s /Early 70’s. I spent 7 Years in Guam 73 to 80 until I found that unless I wanted to be in the “Tourist Business” that I needed to find something else to do. I still travel through Guam 4 to 5 times a year. The Island is in a “Self Destruct” mode as it sets. Very little has been done since the 90’s when the Navy pulled out most of there operations in 95. While Protesting the buildup may be the “Cool Thing” to do it doesn’t support the Island Finances. The US puts 100’s of Millions into the island to be met with many of the Islanders thinking that the “FEDS” are sticking to the “MAN”. What many need to understand is the “FEDS cannot give what it hasn’t taken from Someone Else”. For example 20Million for the Ordot Dump….. Where do you think that will come from? The “Guam” Federal Tax?????

    If you want to see the Economy move in Guam then supporting this move is a good thing. This is what we can bet on. 8500 Troops on island all receiving a Check means that they will be spending monies on the ISLAND. Some want to bet that they will spend all there monies on the Base, not likely, look at the bases in the states, many of them are “Commercializing Services” instead of operating them. Food, Clothing, enterainment, etc. Those who think that they will only spend thier monies on base are very Naive. The Bases will create more jobs also. Where in the 60’s and 70’s the military tried to maintain there bases with Military Personnel they have since turned that over to the “Civilian Force” You can bet if someone really wants a Job once the base if built they can have one.

  5. I am a Merchant Marine….. However I have served in the Military, late 68 early 70’s. Live in guam for 7 years till the 80’s.

  6. excellent post in order for us to know the real information about the system implemented by the government staffs! Actually I enjoyed reading this post in the sense of giving us a brilliant idea about the differences of the facts with myths regarding the military condition particularly in Guam.God Bless!!!

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