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Guam opposes expanding the U.S. military footprint

Date Posted: 2010-08-12

The government of Guam, which years ago agreed to the plan to relocate 8,000 American Marines from Okinawa to the island, is now sending signals to the U.S. Defense Department not to think about expanding its footprint outside of existing bases and training areas.

Guam officials say they’re prepared for the planned transfer, even though they’d like to slow the timelines to allow for proper infrastructure construction. What they’re opposed to, and what they’ve told the U.S. Navy in a letter to Jackalyne Pfannensteil, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, is that the Pentagon will expand the existing zone to accommodate the marines’ transfer. Senior Guam officials point out that more than one-third of the island is already under U.S. military control.

Pfannensteil, in testimony to a U.S. Congressional panel, said the Marines’ transfer could be delayed beyond 2014 because of local infrastructure problems. The Defense Department more-or-less concurred, saying a completion in 2017 is an option.

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