Guam — Lynn Underscores Commitment to Guam’s People, Resources

AGANA, Guam, July 28, 2010 — Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III today reit­er­at­ed his com­mit­ment to respect Guam’s cul­ture and to pre­serve its resources through­out an upcom­ing U.S. troop realign­ment.

“And the mea­sure of suc­cess is whether we make … Guam bet­ter in the endeav­or. I think we can suc­ceed,” Lynn told gov­ern­ment and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers dur­ing a din­ner at the governor’s com­plex here. Lynn was on the sec­ond day of his first vis­it to Guam.

Lynn trav­eled to Guam to get a first­hand look at the island’s facil­i­ties and to speak with gov­ern­ment lead­ers and res­i­dents about an increased mil­i­tary pres­ence there. About 8,500 Marines and more than 9,000 fam­i­ly mem­bers are slat­ed to move from Oki­nawa to this U.S. ter­ri­to­ry in accor­dance with a 2006 agree­ment with Japan.

The same agree­ment also calls for a realign­ment of Marines to a new loca­tion on Oki­nawa. The deputy sec­re­tary empha­sized the need to pro­ceed in a “col­lab­o­ra­tive way.”

The realign­ment of troops will result in more than dou­ble the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence on Guam. Rather than move all them in at one time, Lynn said, the Defense Depart­ment will ensure the troop buildup is paced to match the island’s abil­i­ty to accept them.

“The buildup and Guam’s infra­struc­ture need to be in sync,” he said. “This is not a large island and this is a lot of Marines. It is a chal­lenge.”

And, as offi­cials pro­ceed, they’ll need to ensure they’re respect­ing and pre­serv­ing Chamor­ro cul­ture, Lynn said, refer­ring to Guam’s indige­nous peo­ple.

Lynn acknowl­edged the con­cerns some peo­ple on Guam have raised about the troop realign­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly in regard to the selec­tion of Pagat for a small-arms fir­ing range. The loca­tion has his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance for Guam.

A small-arms train­ing range is vital to the Marine pres­ence here, Lynn said, and the final envi­ron­men­tal impact state­ment, released last week, iden­ti­fied Pagat as the pre­ferred loca­tion for a Marine train­ing range. The state­ment assessed the pos­si­ble envi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences of an increased mil­i­tary pres­ence on Guam, as well as mea­sures that will help the mil­i­tary and peo­ple of Guam cre­ate a sus­tain­able future.

Lynn pledged to con­tin­ue to work with Guam’s peo­ple and gov­ern­ment to take on issues such as the one cen­ter­ing on Pagat.

Lynn also reit­er­at­ed the need to con­sid­er Guam’s busi­ness­es and exper­tise first through­out the realign­ment.

“That means more than con­struc­tion; that means we need to build exper­tise in the pop­u­la­tion whether it’s engi­neers or envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists,” he said.

This will help to cre­ate a lega­cy that will car­ry Guam into the future, Lynn said, and will make Guam “tru­ly bet­ter for the realign­ment than it was before.”

Ear­li­er in the day, Lynn met with Guam’s gov­er­nor, Felix Cama­cho, as well as the island’s leg­is­la­ture, to dis­cuss the troop buildup and relat­ed con­cerns. He also trav­eled to neigh­bor­ing islands, Saipan and Tin­ian, to dis­cuss the troop increase with the gov­ern­ment lead­ers there.

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

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