President Obama committed to Guam build-up


<p style="text-align: justify;">Dispelling doubts around the tardy progress on the US$15 billion United States armed forces base in Guam, a top US official has said President Barack Obama remains committed to the project. <!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The US Marine Corps’ Pacific region Director of Plans, Policies and Operations, Bryan H. Wood, said last week that the President “is still committed to a Marine presence on Guam. I think it’s pretty clear and we want to continue to restate that.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The US armed forces plans to relocate its base from Okinawa in Japan to Guam – believed to be the largest infrastructure project ever in the region – has been watched with much interest throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Countries of the South Pacific see an opportunity for sub-contracting and provision of skilled and semi-skilled labour. The project requires contractors to source and procure a certain proportion of materials and services from within the region as also hire a proportion of local people in the workforce.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">But the tardy progress on the move, which was originally to be completed by the year 2015, has raised doubts throughout the region as to the actual timeframe in which the flow on effects of the big move would eventuate. The latest statement from the senior officer appears to allay those fears. There have also been reports that the number of personnel to be stationed at the new base has been scaled down from 8000 to 4700.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The scaled down numbers is now seen as resulting in faster process and less expense. Though reduced numbers will result in scaled down expectations of economic growth, some quarters in Guam welcome the move as it will also mean a smaller environmental impact on the island territory as also lesser land and water allocation for US defence use.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Media reports last month also indicated that the US had plans to boost its bases in the Philippines – which again raised speculation that this could be at the expense of the original plans for Guam.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">President Obama’s assurance will raise some hope of the US armed forces infrastructure projects in the region progressing steadily, hopefully bringing in the expected flow on benefits to island economies throughout the Pacific states.</p>
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