House Armed Services Committee holds hearing - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

House Armed Services Committee holds hearing

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - In the nation's capitol, the military buildup and the unfunded infrastructure requirements needed outside the military fences for Guam to be prepared to handle the increase in population is finally getting some serious attention.

During today's hearing on the FY2011 budget requests from the US Pacific Command and US Forces Korea, House Armed Services Committee Chairperson Ike Skelton began by saying the issues here in the Asia-Pacific region have been ignored. Specifically citing the marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam, Skelton noted the changes being planned for the island will shape America's strategic posture through the critical Asia Pacific region for 50 years or more.

Chairman Skelton is no stranger to the island's issues, having lead congressional delegations here first in August 2007 and February 2009.  "Yet the path forward remains unclear, Japan is reassessing the agreement to move troops from Okinawa to Guam it does not appear that the budget includes sufficient funds to accomplish the agreement- 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," he said.

Texas Senator Solomon Ortiz going to bat for Guam during today's hearing, questioned Admiral Robert Willard, the Commander of US Pacific Command on whether he believes the territory will be adversely impacted by the relocation, and asked what recommendations he has for the government to prepare.  In his response Admiral Willard agreed the military must get it right, he acknowledged the island's current infrastructure problems and how the influx in population would only bring on additional pressure.

He said, "In order to get it right we are working EPA, I sent two of my senior representatives with Nancy Sutley, the president's environmental advisor in order they can see and listen first hand understand outside the fence line its our intention work closely with EPA Sutley and GovGuam and work across the department in order to identify and determine inadequacies to determine best solutions as a consequence of relocation efforts Texas the people of Guam are great people and I don't want them to feel they are begin taken advantage of."

Admiral Willard later in the hearing said that Guam wasn't chosen for the relocation because it was the only choice.  "This is the best place, and the farthest, this part of our nation.  Guam is vital to this decision."

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