by Mindy Aguon
Guam - House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton expressed concern about the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam. During his opening statement on a hearing on Fiscal Year 2011 budget requests from U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea, Skelton touched on the "daunting challenges ahead in the Asia-Pacific" and concerns about the rebasing plans.
"It does not appear that the budget includes sufficient funds to accomplish the agreement and the Environmental Protection Agency has identified problems with the rebasing plan's environmental impacts. We must get this right, and I assure you that this committee will work to ensure that we do," Skelton stated. The USEPA deemed the draft environmental impact statement on the buildup "environmentally unsatisfactory" and recommended a slew of changes be made to ensure the buildup doesn't harm the island's environment.
Elected leaders and government officials also expressed their concerns surrounding the buildup and the lack of funding for infrastructure needs with White House Council on Environmental Health Chair Nancy Sutley and other federal officials who made a brief stop on Guam this week. Skelton emphasized that the United States "must be proactively engaged in the Asia-Pacific region on multiple fronts, and realize that our own actions may well influence the choices and actions of others."
The Housed Armed Services Chair adding the committee has difficult work to ensure America's force posture is capable of deterring or confronting any security challenge that may emerge in this region.
The House Armed Services Committee heard from Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command and General "Skip" Sharp, Commander of U.S. Forces Korea today.