2nd Interagency Group on Insular Affairs Meeting on Guam Military Build Up
Pentagon Conference Center, Arlington, Va. (November 19, 2007) – The Joint Guam Program Office (JGPO) of the Department of the Navy hosted the second Interagency Group on Insular Affairs (IGIA) meeting on the Guam military build-up. The IGIA coordinates Federal policy towards Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Secretary of the Interior, who chairs the IGIA, also administers the financial assistance that the U.S. provides to the Freely Associated States under the Compacts of Free Association. On the agenda was the continuing discussion of the historic realignment of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. Considered the largest of its kind since World War II, the estimated cost of the military build-up may exceed $14 billion.
The meeting commenced with opening remarks from David B. Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs. Mr. Cohen reiterated the significance of the military realignment for the United States and the insular areas and the need for Federal coordination to ensure that the build-up was implemented successfully. Following Mr. Cohen, the Honorable Felix P. Camacho, Governor of Guam, and Major General David F. Bice, USMC (Ret.), Executive Director of JGPO also gave remarks. Governor Camacho shared that the government and people of Guam welcomed the military build-up on their island and were looking forward to working with the Federal Government to meet the needs of both the military and the people of Guam.
After the introductions, JGPO presented its master plan for the build-up and projected costs; then the Government of Guam presented its requests for projects and projected costs, followed by a representative from Office of Management and Budget, who provided guidance on the Federal budget process.
The rest of the day was broken down into different break-out sessions, in which each of the five subgroups (Labor, Infrastructure, Environmental, Health and Human Services, and Socio-Economic) discussed in further detail issues and resources for particular aspects of the build-up.
This meeting was preceded by a very successful Conference on Business Opportunities in the Islands, held on Guam in October. With the military build-up as one of its main topics, the conference attracted over 800 delegates from private and public sectors from throughout the Pacific as well as from those parts of Asia bordering the region. This is just one of the early signs of how much buzz this military realignment is creating in the region.
The military realignment will move 8,000 marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. Prior to their arrival, at least 15,000 workers will be necessary for initial construction of military facilities and other infrastructure upgrades "outside the fence", e.g. roads, ports, hospitals, and schools, that will support both the increased military and civilian populations on Guam. Overall, when the move is completed, Guam will experience about a 20% growth in population. The realignment also promises increased jobs in the construction, service, and tourist industries for the entire region.