- By Johanna Salinas
Guam historian: Military must be more transparent with local community
Aegis Ashore: Photo courtesy of Naval News
Guam needs protection from any possible attack, specifically from China, but the U.S. military needs to be more transparent with the community, according to a Guam historian and preservation official.
“This China is a growing power the U.S. has to deal with. People of Guam have to understand this,” said Dave Lotz, a memebr of the Guam Review Board for Historic Preservation.
In September, Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, requested the Aegis Ashore to be built on Guam to protect the island from China's threat.
While typically very vocal in his criticism of the military, Lotz said he believes Guam can benefit from the presence of Aegis Ashore on island.
"Aegis Ashore is something we need. I know I'm known as a critic of the military but my criticism is the Marine Corps base on Guam is destructive of the forest and culture and is unnecessary," he said.
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Lotz said the current national security threat is reminiscent of the USSR era. “My main concern is we’re probably entering a cold war with China. Just think of the cold war with USSR,” he said. “Andersen had 12 to 14 B-52s on nuclear standby and two of them always had their engines running to get off ground in a matter of minutes. They had nuclear weapons on board. The cold war was close to being a nuclear holocaust.”
Although Guam’s delegate may not have a voting right in the U.S. Congress, Lotz said the next delegate must work hard at bringing these issues to the floor.
“I don’t think our delegate has power to do a lot relative to U.S. relations with China. But they can advocate to the Department of Defense for the correct defense for Guam and clearly keep people informed, which I don’t think is being done adequately,” he said.
Last month, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force released a video showing nuclear-capable bombers attacking what appeared to be Andersen Air Force Base.
“If that was just conventional bombs then what would the U.S. do? And to what strength?” Lotz asked. “Even if that was conventional warfare, it would quickly escalate to a nuclear war."
Guam, being the "tip of the military spear," is at the crosshairs of rogue nations, but Lotz said the U.S. military has failed to give the civilian community a sense of security.
"There's not any plans to protect the people of Guam. When North Korea was threatening Guam, the only thing Guam’s Civil Defense was coming up with was run into a concrete building, which is no plan at all," Lotz said. "We need to be informed by the military and come up with plans from our Civil Defense Office and Homeland Security.”
Whatever actions the U.S. military may take to deal with China or any other adversarial threats, Lotz said he hopes defense officials will be more transparent with the people of Guam by engaging in open community dialogues instead of holding private meetings with the governor and the legislature behind closed doors.
In an earlier interview, Lotz raised concerns about the lack of local representation at the annual Programmatic Agreement 2011 workshop held Aug. 6, with only 20 people in attendance,
“The military, to their detriment, has shied away from dialoguing with Guam once the people started giving appropriate, legitimate criticisms about the military buildup. That was their response and that’s wrong," Lotz said.
"They need to sit down and discuss the issues and come up with agreeable resolutions. I’m not saying it’ll be done quickly, but the people have legitimate concerns and the military needs to be transparent. They need to be realistic,” he added.
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