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Guam officials react to buildup delay

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - With news of the delay finally official, local officials are breathing a sigh of relief that the buildup will now happen in a less-rushed pace, and according to some, a good thing for the island. Reaction on Guam to the delay of the military buildup was met with little surprise. Joint Guam Program Office director John Jackson says the decision is what is best for the island.

He said, "I think it is a reflection of what we have been talking about on the island here for quite some time was probably not realistic unless we wanted to break Guam, which of course we do not want to do." And although many in the business community are banking on the big bucks to come with the buildup, Guam Chamber of Commerce president David Leddy says the delay could buy time for much-needed preparation, telling KUAM News, "I think that is a good thing and the Chamber has known that all along so this is a time for us, a time for the business community our government partners and our community leaders to come together and see how we can best prepare for what's happening on Guam, and so this delay in the timeline of the military buildup gives us an opportunity to do that."

And not just time for local preparation but for preparation on a grander scale as well, says Senator Frank Blas, Jr. "This also gives the nation and those people in the Defense Department and opportunity to look at their plans and see how we can make it fit with regards to ensuring this is a 'One Guam' approach at the end of the day," he stated.

Meanwhile, Buildup Committee chairperson Senator Judi Guthertz has fired off letters to the three U.S. senators who spoke out with criticism on the scope of the buildup - Carl Levin, Jim Webb and John McCain. In her letters Guthertz says she hopes during their recent visit they did not get a false impression of the reception the marines would receive should they be transferred to Guam. She writes that the greater majority of the people in Guam support the buildup - a move that is apparently too big to happen so fast.

She said, "In order to meet 2014 would be some very Herculean effort to get there, and I don't think we were ready to do that and I don't think it would have benefited either Guam, the United States or Japan to try and make that happen and to force that schedule."

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