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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 April 15 - 21  > U.S. GAO warns of delayed funding for U.S. military realignment projects on Guam
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2009 April 15 - 21 [US FORCES]

U.S. GAO warns of delayed funding for U.S. military realignment projects on Guam

April 17, 2009
The U.S. Government Accountability Office admits that there are “many challenges yet to be addressed” in funding the U.S. military buildup project on Guam.

The military base project involves infrastructure requirements such as provision of utilities and roads in order to “accept part of the U.S. Marine Corps units from Okinawa to Guam.”

The Japanese Diet has been discussing the “Guam Agreement” on “relocating” a part of the U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam. It is unheard of for one nation in peacetime to use its tax money for the military buildup of another nation.

If passed, it will urge Japan to pay as much as required to assist in the U.S. DoD Guam project, pushed under the pretext that the ‘relocation’ will help reduce Okinawa’s burdens of the presence of U.S. military bases.

The GAO sent the April 9 report titled “High-Level Leadership Needed to Help Guam Address Challenges Caused by DOD-Related Growth” to U.S. Congressional committees, including the Armed Services Committees of both chambers.

Actually, the report made it clear that the Guam Agreement is indeed unequal in that it precisely defined the amount of Japan’s payment for realigning Guam’s bases, while leaving U.S. payments undetermined.

The report states that the plan to relocate more than 8,000 Marines and an estimated 9,000 dependents from Okinawa, Japan will increase Guam's current population of 171,000 to 196,000. In addition, the realignment will require additional workers to move to the island.

Thus, Guam will require funding for infrastructural development including the construction of roads and provisions of utilities.

In a May 2008 hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho stated that approximately $6.1 billion, including $4.4 billion for roads, $670 million for the electricity grid, and $590 million for education, would be requested for fiscal year 2010 to help fund Guam's needs in support of the military buildup.

The annual income of Guam, estimated at about $530 million, is too small to implement these plans.

However, the status of interagency coordination is far short of providing the necessary resources to address Guam's critical social services and infrastructure needs, and it will be unable to affect interagency budgets to help ensure that the realignment of military forces on Guam will be completed by the fiscal year 2014 completion date, the report warns.

Also, the GAO report argues that expanding U.S. force capabilities on the island will require more than $13 billion, including $10.3 billion as costs related to the USMC alone. While sharing the contribution of the $10.3 billion by Japan ($6.1 billion) and the U.S. (remainder of the facilities and infrastructure development costs) was agreed on in the Guam Treaty, another $6.1 billion, claimed by Guam’s governor as infrastructure-related costs, is excluded from the $10.3 billion figure.

The Guam pact on U.S. Marine Corps ‘relocation’ defines that only Japan is obliged to use its tax money of $2.8 billion, while it fails to mention the amount the U.S. should pay.

If the U.S. makes no guarantee of funding for infrastructure-related costs, it will fall on Japan to make additional payments.
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