Bordallo asks why firing range is necessary - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bordallo asks why firing range is necessary

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - "These are the same forces that liberated Guam 65 years ago, so our people look at it as a homecoming," said Congressional Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. Although the signing of the Programmatic Agreement may open the doors to the Marines' relocation and the millions of dollars that comes with the move, Bordallo remains skeptical that Guam is the right place for a live fire training range.

During a House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Readiness hearing today, she asked for an explanation as to why such a range is needed in the territory. Lieutenant General Richard Tryon is Deputy Commandant of the Marines Corps for Plans, Policies and Operations, who was asked by Bordallo, "What I wanted to get from you for the record, what is it we have never really received any specific information as to why is it more advantageous for training on Guam verses Tinian. And I would think more virtual urban style training could be done on Guam and live fire in Tinian. Could you comment on that?"

The general responded, "The commandant's intent specific is really threefold; first that the Marines are properly positioned in the Pacific Rim at large to respond to whatever threat and to support our national security objectives, and that wherever the Marines are they have the ability to properly train in order to be properly be trained for those contingencies. And last but not least that wherever the Marines are the quality of life meets standards and promotes a high state of morale and readiness."

General Tryon continued to stress the importance of Guam's strategic location, and said that dialogue continues on the Pagat front, adding Tinian was not necessarily considered. "At this point in time, we are still stepping through the pros and cons of what kind of range can be constructed adjacent to Route 15 on Guam. The downside of having a range off the island is a couple of things: first, Marines would not have immediate access to a range or training area.  Which again goes back to the question of time and risk in the event that we would have to deploy quickly field firing weapons and preparing for a rapid move would require close and ready access to ranges. Transportation to off-island training creates a time requirement it generates additional operational and maintenance expenses and at this point in time we haven' conducted enough of an assessment of any of the off island potential training sites. To understand whether they could even meet our training requirements or not. So its very much a work in progress."

Also a work in progress, the Department of Defense's potential leasing of GovGuam land along the back road, something Bordallo said could be a problem. "The Marines requirement seems to have shifted since the beginning of the EIS process in 2006, so I remain skeptical that the land on Guam needed for the range can be leased. By the Department of Defense," she said.

Bordallo encouraged the DoD to conduct a cost benefit analysis of training on Tinian, adding a balance must be found between the Marine Corps needs for effective training and the concerns from all stakeholders.

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