HASC holds hearing on 2012 defense budget - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

HASC holds hearing on 2012 defense budget

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Today the House Armed Services Committee heard from Department of Defense officials on President Barack Obama's proposed 2012 defense budget. It was also a chance for Guam delegate Madeleine Bordallo to push for war claims and an update on the military buildup.

President Obama's proposed defense budget includes $367 million for military construction projects for Guam and an additional $33 million in funding for civilian infrastructure needs. What it doesn't contain? War reparations. H.R. 44 (The Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act) was stripped from last year's defense budget. During today's House Armed Services Committee on the 2012 defense spending plan, Congresswoman Bordallo asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates where he stood.

The compromise version, which Bordallo has re-introduced, eliminates payments to the descendants of the survivors of the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II. "The people of Guam, Mr. Secretary, are being asked to provide additional land for firing ranges and the main base area for the buildup and resolution of Guam war claims is going to be critical in overcoming historical injustices," said Bordallo.

Gates added, "As Deputy Undersecretary Lynn testified, we've continued to support the Department of Justice's position on this," to which she replied, "So I guess the answer would be yes."

Congresswoman Bordallo would then ask for a status of the DoD's roadmap for realigning U.S. forces in Japan. Said Bordallo, "Specifically, how is the reconfiguration of Camp Schwab facilities and the adjacent water surface areas to accommodate the Futenma Replacement Facility project proceeding, and when can we see tangible progress on Okinawa for a Futenma replacement facility?" Gates answered, "My hope is first I discussed this when I was in Japan just a few weeks ago; I feel like the Japanese government is making a serious effort to resolve the Futenma issue. My hope is that we will get resolution particularly on the configuration of the airfield, the runway, perhaps later this spring and that would then allow us to move forward with our planning. Until we get the Futenma Replacement Facility issue settled, we really are not in a position to go forward."

Gates adding without resolution of the Futenma issue troops won't leave Okinawa, and lands won't get returned to the Japanese. In recent months, representatives from the Japanese government have made several trips to Guam among the issues brought up the feasibility of moving the Futenma Replacement Facility to the territory. Local leaders however have said Guam does not have the capacity to handle the additional burden.

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