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Restoration of Mawar-damaged defense facilities on Guam may cost $10 billion

Updated: 6 days ago


By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

 

Reconstructing the military facilities on Guam that were heavily damaged by Supertyphoon Mawar last year may come with a price tag of $10 billion, according to defense officials.

 

“There's no ability for the Air Force baseline budget to absorb the magnitude of the disaster that happened from this typhoon,” according to Lt. Gen. Tom Miller, deputy chief of staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection at the U.S. Air Force.


Packing maximum sustained winds of 130-140 mph, Mawar was the strongest storm to hit Guam since 2002, battering the island on May 24, 2023, with its eye passing over the northernmost part, where Andersen Air Force Base is located.


“This is on a scale close to twice what the National Disaster Recovery requirement was when a Cat-5 hurricane directly hit Tyndall Air Force Base in 2018,” Miller told the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriation on May 1 during a review of the 2025 budget request for military construction.

 

The ongoing restoration of the Air Force base in Florida costs $4.9 billion.

 

Miller said the Air Force has so far spent $300 million on immediate requirements for repairs at Andersen Air Force Base, tapping into the Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization funds.


Jeffrey Jablon

The Navy has requested $1.3 billion in supplemental funding for Mawar recovery.


"The strategic importance of Guam is not only important to the Navy but also to the Joint Force and the Mawar typhoon that ravaged the islands did a lot of damage to our critical infrastructure and the projects that we were planning to work on," said Vice Adm. Jeffrey Jablon, deputy chief of Naval Operations.


 The damaged glass breakwater in Apra Harbor and the HSC-25 hangar at AAFB are both on the Navy’s unfunded priority list.

 

“Those really need to be repaired. And they're going to cost a lot of money $600 million for the breakwater, $580 million for the hangar,” said Vice Adm. Jeffrey Jablon, deputy chief of Naval Operations.

 

To start the procurement for the glass breakwater project, Jablon said the Navy will have to pull $300 million from the restoration modernization funds currently earmarked for other projects.

 

Storm debris scattered inside Andersen Air Force Base after Typhoon Mawar hit on May 24, 2023. Photo courtesy of Airman First Class Allison Martin

“Due to the typhoon, there's greater than 20 percent damage that occurred to the breakwater, and if that breaches, the inbound and outbound traffic going to Apra Harbor will not be allowed to go in, and that includes our submarines, our Navy surface ships and our submarine tenders that are stationed there,” Jablon told the appropriations committee.

 

Air Force helicopters are currently using the Marine Corps’ hangar in AAFB pending the restoration of the HSC-25 hangar. “But we're not going to be able to use that forever,” Jablon said.

 

Fixing the HSC-25 hangar, which is designated for the squadron that flies MH-60 Sierras, will use funds for military construction programs.

 

“So it's a substantial effect on the Navy's MilCon and restoration modernization funding if we do not receive supplemental funding,” Jablon said.

 

The Mawar-recovery investments are on top of the $12 billion military construction in preparation for the relocation of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam and $1.5 billion for the enhanced integrated ground and air missile defense system.

Miller agreed that the disaster recovery process through supplemental funding would enable the military to execute the projects in sequence. 

 

“The sequencing is so important and there's dependencies between,” Miller said. “We found multiple dependencies a year into the construction, which weren't immediately available.”

 

Quoting Air Force spokesperson Laurel Falls, Air&Space Forces Magazine reported that Mawar damaged more than 90 Air Force structures.


Falls said current requirements include 42 military construction projects totaling $7.9 billion.


“We are not simply restoring facilities back to their previous specifications and requirements from the 1960s, ‘70s, or ‘80s,” Falls told Air & Space Forces Magazine. “We need to rebuild with increased resiliency against future storms, as well as increased capacity and capability.”






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