Guam — Lynn: Collaboration is Key to Troop Buildup in Guam

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said he’s depart­ing Guam with a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the troop realign­ment chal­lenges that lie ahead there.

“I think the realign­ment is going to be chal­leng­ing,” Lynn said yes­ter­day in an inter­view with Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice while en route home. “It’s a big, pro­gram­mat­ic change and we need to do this smart; we need to take into account the con­cerns of the peo­ple of Guam, we need to take into account the size of Guam, the infra­struc­ture that’s involved, and we need to work through this in a col­lab­o­ra­tive way.”

About 8,500 Marines and some 9,000 fam­i­ly mem­bers are slat­ed to move to Guam from Oki­nawa in accor­dance with a 2006 agree­ment between the Unit­ed States and Japan. The same agree­ment also calls for a realign­ment of Marines to a new loca­tion on Oki­nawa.

Lynn trav­eled to Guam, a U.S. ter­ri­to­ry, for a first­hand look at the island’s facil­i­ties and to speak with gov­ern­ment lead­ers and res­i­dents about the troop increase.

“The main pur­pose was to get an under­stand­ing on the ground rather than with just Pow­er­Point slides,” he said. “I think we got a very full plate in those two days.”

Guam’s res­i­dents have a range of opin­ions regard­ing the troop realign­ment, Lynn not­ed. Some are con­cerned about the envi­ron­men­tal and cul­tur­al impacts, while oth­ers are very sup­port­ive and see an increased mil­i­tary pres­ence as ben­e­fi­cial to Guam’s long-term future, he said.

The final envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment released last week address­es the pos­si­ble envi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences of the buildup. This state­ment also out­lines mea­sures that will help the mil­i­tary and peo­ple of Guam cre­ate a sus­tain­able future.

Next, Lynn said, a record of deci­sion will be signed in Sep­tem­ber, after which the actu­al imple­men­ta­tion of the plan will take place.

Mean­while, “We need to work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with the gov­ern­ment of Guam and the peo­ple of Guam to work through the issues they’ve iden­ti­fied,” he said.

Lynn reit­er­at­ed his com­mit­ment to mov­ing ahead respect­ful­ly, keep­ing Guam’s cul­ture and resources in mind, and ensur­ing the buildup “leads to a bet­ter and stronger Guam in the end of this process.”

Lynn said he’s impressed by the patri­o­tism dis­played by Guam’s cit­i­zens, and their sup­port for the mil­i­tary.

Lynn also trav­eled to Guam’s neigh­bor­ing islands, Saipan and Tin­ian, to meet with gov­ern­ment lead­ers there and to explore the poten­tial for future coop­er­a­tive efforts.

“As we do the big­ger realign­ment in the Pacif­ic and main­tain a robust pres­ence in the Pacif­ic, there will be broad­er train­ing needs, train­ing needs that can’t be accom­plished on the island of Guam or even in oth­er facil­i­ties we have in the Pacif­ic,” he explained. “So we’re look­ing at what kinds of expan­sion we might need to do and Saipan and Tin­ian might be part of that.”

Lynn said the prospect of future coop­er­a­tive efforts was well received by gov­ern­ment offi­cials.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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