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Pentagon cuts military bureaucracy for Guam; trims project decision process

Updated: Mar 28


Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman speaks before the Guam Chamber of Commerce during a meeting at Hilton Resort and Spa on March 27. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Guam’s combat readiness is marked urgent, hence the Pentagon’s recent move to chop off layers of military bureaucracy by assigning a high-ranking official to be the point man for the island.

“That sounds like a lot, and it is,” Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman said, referring to the new tasks given to Undersecretary of the Navy Erik Raven.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks last month appointed Raven as the agency’s lead official tasked with overseeing and coordinating military activities on Guam.

“He is now responsible for ensuring that all of the work that is going on here, all the construction projects, all the planned buildup, is carried out on an effective timeline to meet any potential threats throughout the region,” said Huffman, commander of the Joint Region Marianas.

Huffman was recently promoted as chief of the soon-to-be formed Joint Task Force Micronesia.

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The military’s $11 billion investments on Guam entail massive construction to accommodate 5,000 Marines who will be relocated from Okinawa. The first flow of troops from Okinawa is anticipated to arrive late this year.


Huffman also announced the establishment of the Guam Synchronization and Oversight Council, which he said is equipped with decision-making power

“This is an extremely senior level group of officials in the Pentagon,” the JRM commander said speaking before the Guam Chamber of Commerce at Guam Hilton Resort Spa on Wednesday.

The council is co-chaired by Indo-Pacific Commander Adm. John Aquilino and Raven, along with the undersecretaries of military services.

“This group operates at the highest level and has the authority to make decisions, allocate resources, remove barriers, change policies,” Huffman said.

The council’s mission, he added, is to ensure that the posture being set on Guam “is done effectively and in a timely manner so that we can achieve what we need to combat and deter any adversaries that might be threatening the freedom of the international order.”


Besides the construction projects covered by the 2006 realignment roadmap, the defense department is also poised to build a 360-degree Guam missile defense architecture to shore up the island’s protection against potential threats from China.

“I would say we're on track right now,” Huffman said.


The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be released by summer. The project, which is under the purview of the Missile Defense Agency, involves the installation of multiple components of the missile defense architecture in different locations throughout the island.

"There will be another opportunity for public engagement sessions where the MDA leadership and Army leadership will come out and do public hearings and discussions and basically get feedback from the public as well as the government on any issues that are still outstanding from that draft EIS," Huffman said.

The final version is projected to be completed next year.

“That will be the trigger for moving forward more robustly with the construction projects,” Huffman said.

While the Civilian Military Coordination Council meets monthly, Huffman said the acceleration of military activities on Guam necessitates increased engagement with the civilian community.

The council meetings, which used to be held quarterly, focus on the development there and the progress of military construction.


"Over time, we came to realize that there was so much going on, it was more valuable to expand what we were discussing to all aspects of military life here on Guam, both the construction that's going on, as well as impacts that the military growth would have on the community," Huffman said. 

"We've also decided that those meetings need to be more frequent. We have a number of working groups that get after a lot of issues, and we look to continue to partner with the governor and her staff in ensuring that all of the military activity here is well understood and is coordinated and synchronized with everything," he added.



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