U.S. lawmakers will look into the possibility of establishing a permanent air force unit under the Guam National Guard to further beef up the defense system on the island.
The U.S. House of Representatives' armed services committee on Thursday gave the nod to Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele's proposal for a feasibility study that provides "a detailed analysis on how permanent basing flying missions on Guam would affect the region's strategic planning and overall national defense and security."
The air force basing proposal was among the amendments proposed by the congressman from Hawaii during the committee's markup session for the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
Added to the defense spending bill is a provision "to direct the Secretary of the Air Force, in consultation with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the Director of the Air National Guard, to conduct a feasibility study on establishing a permanent basing Air Force associate flying unit on Guam, to include the Guam Air National Guard."
“Guam plays a critical role in the national defense strategy for our nation. After my visit to Guam where I had the opportunity to meet with Congressman San Nicolas and senior military leaders at Andersen Air Force Base including the Guam Air National Guard, I believe establishing a permanent associate Air Force flying mission on Guam is crucial to safeguarding our national security interests in the Indo-Pacific,” Kahele said.
“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, it is my privilege to include this feasibility study in the FY2022 NDAA – the first step to help advance this important initiative," he added.
"After working closely with Armed Services Committee Member Congressman Kaiali'i "Kai" Kahele, to include our meeting during his recent visit to Guam, we are extremely grateful for his leadership to sponsor this amendment language in committee for our Guam Air National Guard, and for the committee's support of its passage onto the NDAA," said Congressman Michael San Nicolas, Guam's delegate to Congress.
"This study is a direct step toward bringing air capability to our Guam Air Guard, giving them opportunities to learn flight and flight support modalities as part of their career development in support of the overall national defense mission," he added.
Kahele also proposed a similar study for his home state.
The amendment read: "Feasibility study on the establishment of a Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Aeromedical Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam provision to direct the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the Director of the Air National Guard, to complete a feasibility study on establishing a Hawaiʻi Air National Guard aeromedical squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to support the aeromedical mission needs of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the State of Hawaiʻi.