Record of Decision's signing begins Marines' relocation - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Record of Decision's signing begins Marines' relocation

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Local and federal leaders are calling it an "historic event." The Defense Department has signed the Record of Decision, the final step in a required environmental regulatory process. It will usher in a new era for Guam, by launching the multi-billion dollar re-location of United States Marines from Okinawa.

"This will be the first US Marine base ever built since 1944. It is a historic event for Guam, but it's also a historic event for our armed forces, and for the United States," explained Guam governor Eddie Calvo.

Historic. A milestone. Local leaders could not stress enough the significance of the Marine relocation.

It has been twelve long years since former Bush Administration defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld first confirmed to Guam congressional delegate Madeleine Bordallo that the Marines would be moving to Guam. The ensuing years, officials say, have been filled with debate, dialogue and public discussion on the best plan to bring the Marines back.

"The civilian population here have been concerned about the culture of our island, whether this will have any effect on them. And over all these years the military has listened to their concerns. We've made changes as the time went on, and now I think we have a very solid plan to go forward with," said Bordallo.

It is because so much work has gone into the plan that Governor Calvo believes succeeding powers-to-be in Washington will not likely try and change it. For example, he points to one key compromise in which the military agreed to build only within property it already controls.  It was a critical issue for a tiny island with limited land mass, with Calvo adding, "Listening to the outcry of the people, the Defense Department has actually stated a policy where there'll be a lesser footprint by the time this is all said and done. so there has been a policy that has gone through different congresses, different presidencies, and it will continue on for different presidencies to come."

"This issue of whether it will be election-proof, I think it's already been proven and borne out by the way how this has evolved," he added.

The Marines have been here before. They liberated the island from Japanese occupation in World War II. And a small contingent was based here before being deactivated in 1992 according to the Marine Corps Activity Guam website.

Now, the Marines are coming back.

With China's emergence as a rival world power, the Obama Administration is making a pivot to Asia.

Admiral Bette Bolivar says Guam will play an important role in this overall strategy, telling KUAM News, "This along with many other initiatives going on in the pacific are all part of that force reposturing. To make sure that we're forward for any possible contingencies that may come our way."

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