No money authorized until DOD meets mandates
Guam - The Senate once again makes it clear they won't authorize funding to be spent on the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam unless they fulfill their statutory obligations contained in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Like the sentiments from Senate Armed Service Committee members Senators Carl Levin, Jim Webb and John McCain last week. Senator Claire McCaskill said, "We will continue to hold the line on any authorization of funds for any of those purposes until those requirements are met."
The Missouri senator during a senate subcommittee hearing today said she doesn't plan on authorizing a penny to be spent on the Marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam unless all of the mandates included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act are met which include the submission of a master plan and an independent study be conducted on the military's force posture in East Asia and in the Asia Pacific Region. McCaskill said, "Do you think everyone understands that we do not want any money spent until those requirements are met?"
Jackalyne Pfannenstiel said, "We do understand that and the requirements are underway the independent study the contract for that I understand is about to be signed and all of the other pieces but a lot of that has to do with the outcome of the discussions that are underway between the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan on the ultimate movement to Guam, how many Marines and what timeframe and all those discussions are happening virtually as we speak. And as that gets resolved that will then allow us then to put together the master plan, which I believe is one of the primary requirements under the NDAA we understand that is necessary and we are planning to work with congress to meet those requirements." McCkaskil said, "So that everyone is crystal clear we don't want to go down the road we don't even want to begin going down the road until we're sure where the road is going to lead at the end of it."
According to the figures provided during today's hearing the President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request includes $51 million for construction to support the Marines relocation to Guam, another $139 million for civilian infrastructure to address population growth, of which $106.4 million is for water and waste water infrastructure capital improvements such as water treatment plant modifications, supply well improvements and provision of backup power at wastewater pump stations.
Although discussions between the U.S. and Japan continue on the revised realignment plan, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Pfannensteil wanted to make sure it was clear just how important Guam is to the nation's defense. "I would specifically like to emphasize that we remain committed to establishing an operational Marine Corps presence on Guam. We know congress has concerns regarding the execution of the Guam military realignment and we are taking the necessary steps to address them and move the program forward. This is an important year for the Guam realignment, we will continue to work with and our partners in Guam And Japan as more information becomes available," she said.
On an added note, the director of the Guam Military Buildup Office, Mark Calvo, will be presenting an overview and update on the buildup. The information briefing will be held at the Guam Legislature next Tuesday beginning at 8:30 in the morning.