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New defense command on Guam focused on building 'a very strong deterrent force'

Updated: Jun 10

Incoming commander of Joint Region Marianas, Rear Adm. Brent DeVore, left, and commander of JRM, Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman during a media roundtable at JRM headquarters May 31. DeVore assumed command of JRM during a change of command ceremony June 6; Huffman is to assume command of the newly formed Joint Task Force Micronesia within the next few weeks. Photo by Frank Whitman

By Frank Whitman

A little more than a year after taking command of Joint Region Marianas, Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman has turned over command of JRM to Rear Adm. Brent DeVore and is assuming command of the newly formed Joint Task Force Micronesia.

In his new role, Huffman will remain in Guam to oversee the Navy’s activities throughout the region while JRM will continue to focus on facilities support and growth in Guam.

The formation of the task force “is not focused on any immediate tensions,” Huffman said during a media roundtable at JRM headquarters on May 31. “It is setting that structure and infrastructure and posture the right way so we can provide a very strong deterrent force by having our forces in place,” he added.

The task force comprised 25 personnel at the end of May and is expected to grow to a core group of about 40, Huffman said. Those personnel will be “focused on planning and understanding the relationships and understanding how we are going to manage all of our activities throughout the region.”

Similarly, DeVore said his new position entails “ensuring there’s good synergy and coordination to … prevent people from stepping on each other’s toes as we’re all trying to work toward the strong investment in the buildup in the area.”

DeVore assumed command of JRM during a change of command ceremony on June 6. His previous assignment was as chief of staff for Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in San Diego.


Huffman is to assume command of the task force within the next few weeks.

The defense of Guam’s people is “one of our primary priorities,” Huffman said.

“The task force exemplifies that commitment to ensuring that we have better operational control of forces that are operating in this theater and in this region.

So having the two-star command and elevating the level of command and control is really what this is about, allowing the Indo-Pacific to have a more senior direct representative out here as we build up our forces," he added.

It is a favorable time to establish the task force as the buildup of military forces and facilities in Guam is underway, Huffman said. “The real growth is going to happen in 10 or so years, as new capabilities and new components come online. This is an opportune time to really take advantage of that, bring in the new joint task force, establish that and to start building those command relationships.”


Coming changes include the arrival of about 700 active-duty Army personnel to operate the Guam missile defense system and - a larger and longer-term initiative - the relocation of about 5,000 Marine Corps personnel from Okinawa to Guam.

There are currently 8,000 to 10,000 U.S. service members stationed in Guam.

Planning to accommodate the incoming soldiers is ongoing, Huffman said. The Army personnel will likely be housed at several sites on defense properties including Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam. Army administrative support facilities will probably be at the National Guard location in Barrigada.

“We work really hard at understanding what the growth is going to look like - how many personnel are coming and when they’re coming - so that we don’t get ahead of the support requirements whether it’s utilities or housing or health care,” he said.

The command will continue to partner with the government of Guam, particularly on projects that benefit the entire community, such as hardening water and power generation facilities, or those that are alongside each other, to avoid duplicating efforts.

A major project about which the Navy is concerned is the repair of the Glass Breakwater at Apra Harbor which was damaged during Typhoon Mawar in May 2023. It needed repair before the storm,  repair plans have been made.

“We’re looking very hard to see how we can accelerate work on that to ensure that that remains a viable part of our infrastructure,” Huffman said. “That affects, not just the DOD equities, but everything here on Guam should that wind up in a failed state.”





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