Military buildup on Guam may face downsizing
The Department of Defense is likely to scale back the $8.7 billion military buildup on Guam as a result of the Trump administration’s raid of the defense construction funds to build 175 miles of wall along the Mexican border.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday approved the diversion of $3.6 billion in funding from military construction projects to finance the controversial wall projects, nixed by U.S. Democrats.
Pentagon officials said 127 projects authorized under 2019 defense budget are on the chopping block. However, they declined to identify the affected projects pending submission of details to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.
The 36th Civil Engineering Squadron broke ground on a $4.14 million medical training facility at Andersen Air Force Base in May. Photo courtesy of JRM
“(Officials) say half the money will come from military projects in the U.S., and the rest will come from projects in other countries,” the Military Times reported.
A request for comment from the Joint Region Marianas was not returned as of this writing.
The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act has authorized $409 million worth of projects for Guam. A fact sheet released by the DOD in February listed 13 projects for military installations on Guam. At least 10 of these projects are scheduled for bidding next year, two have already been awarded, while one is up for bid.
The 36th Civil Engineering Squadron broke ground on a $4.14 million medical training facility at Andersen Air Force Base in May. This one-story, 495-square-meter facility—the first for the 624th Aerospace Medicine Flight of the Air Force Reserve—is located adjacent to the existing 36th Medical Group Medical/Dental building on AAFB.
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On June 6, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific awarded a $31.6 million contract to Gilbane Federal of Concord, California to refurbish four enlisted housing units on Naval Base Guam.
Navfac Marianas put out the bid for machine gun range project at AAFB on Aug. 8. The NDAA approves $50 million for this project.
Other pending projects under the current fiscal year budget include the ACE Gym & Dining ($27.9 million), Ordnance Ops ($22 million), Navy-Commercial Tie-In Hardening (37.18 million), Water Well Field ($56 million), Earth Covered Magazines ($52.27 million), APR - SATCOM C4I Facility ($14.2 million), APR - Munitions Storage Igloos, Ph 2 ($35.3 million), Hayman Munitions Storage Igloos MSA 2 (9.8 million) and PRTC Roads ($2.5 million)
President Trump declared a national emergency in February in order to use military construction and other federal funds to build the wall after Congress provided only a portion of the $5.7 billion the president wanted for the barrier.
“If the Department’s FY 2020 budget is enacted on time as requested, no military construction project used to source section 2808 projects would be delayed or cancelled,” DOD said in the fact sheet.
DOD said projects that will be spared from the cancellation include those that already have been awarded as well as military housing, barracks, or dormitory. “The pool of potential military construction projects from which funding could be reallocated to support the construction of border barrier are solely projects with award dates after Sept. 30, 2019,” DOD said.
Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon comptroller, told reporters in Washington that the Diverted funds will be used to build 11 border projects.
“About 3,000 active duty and 2,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed to the southwestern border helping the Homeland Security Department with surveillance, detention of migrants and processing asylum requests,” the Military Times said.
“The goal, according to the Pentagon’s director of operations for the Joint Staff, is to build new or reinforce existing barriers in 11 locations that will help channel migrants to manned, designated ports of entry, eventually reducing the need for troops to be stationed at the border in those areas.”
U.S. Democratic senators wrote to Esper, seeking “justification for how the decision to cancel was made for each project selected and why a border wall is more important to our national security and well being or our service members and their families than these (border wall) projects.”
For Guam, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 appropriates $310.2 million for military construction — plunging 31 percent from the $448.5 million authorized under the current fiscal year.
Defense spending for the current fiscal year is pegged at $717 billion. For Guam military construction, $226 million is allocated for the Navy, $65 million for Air Force, and $19.2 million for defense agencies.
HR 2500 authorizes only $64 million for Bachelor Quarters, which is below the $164 million requested by the Department of Defense. Other appropriations include $91.2 million for machine gun range, $61.9 million for EOD compound, $65 million for munition storage, and $19.2 million for X-ray wharf refueling facility.
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