by Sabrina Salas Matanane
Guam - After several days closed markup meetings by the full committee of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee their version of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act was released publicly and contained what could be a major blow to the military buildup planned by the Department of Defense for Guam.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Ranking Member John McCain and member Sen. Jim Webb have been critical of the funding for the marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam and the Department of Defense's plans for Korea. The three called DOD's plans "unworkable, unrealistic and unaffordable".
Included in the Senate's version of the 2012 NDAA are the following related to Guam:
The release of the Senate's version of the 2012 NDAA comes as bilateral meetings are scheduled to be held between Japan and the U.S. in the nation's capitol next week. NHK media in Japan reported that during that meeting a joint announcement will be made that the 2014 deadline for the marines relocation will not be met.
Reacting to the release of the Senate's version of the 2012 NDAA Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo said the bill must still be considered by the full Senate and reconciled with the House's version before it it sent to President Barack Obama for his signature."The proposed cuts made in the Senate's version of the NDAA are contradictory to the recent positions taken by the Senate which have indicated that infrastructure improvements need to be made on Guam to accommodate the needs of the build-up," said Congresswoman Bordallo.
"In order for the build-up to proceed in a timely fashion, the projects that are funded through the Office of Economic Adjustment, which were requested in the President's budget, need to be addressed up front. Portions of this funding will be used for projects contained in the programmatic agreement and have been agreed on by both the DoD and local leaders. These efforts go hand in hand and must be taken into consideration—specifically, it would be difficult to reach milestones of infrastructure improvement if the vehicle which seeks to facilitate them is eliminated.
"Senate language requiring certain certifications may be an impediment to progress and may have a detrimental effect on the timeline of the build-up. Further, it is important to note that this is not yet law and the House and Senate must reconcile their different versions of the bill. The House remains fully supportive of all Military Construction and off-base infrastructure funding for Guam in the House's version of the FY12 NDAA, and I am committed to fighting for these and other provisions which are very important to Guam. I am also working to have the Administration and the DoD provide a clear position on these issues," the Congresswoman stated.