By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) Speaker Tina Muna Barnes led the Legislature on a tour she requested of the military through Camp Blaz, which is under construction. Camp Blaz is the site of the live fire training range along the northwestern side of the island, and also will encompass the base of operations of the Marine Corps on Guam.
According to military officials on the tour (see the video above for a tour of the site and a message from Ms. Muna Barnes), the live fire training range consists of five ranges, four of which they toured today:
Known Distance Rifle Range
Modified Record Firing Range
Known Distance Pistol Range
Non standard small arms range
The military buildup in Guam and throughout the Mariana islands is the result of an amended security agreement with Japan and the United States's new military and diplomatic posture called the Global Realignment of the Armed Forces. The crux of this major shift in military resources toward this part of the world is the need to magnify U.S. presence in the Asia Pacific region because of the rise of China, Russia, and the problems in the Middle East.
This past Monday evening, Yap's acting attorney general, Rachelle Bergeron, was shot dead in front of her home. She and Yap's governor, Henry Falan, had been critical of Chinese development, and we cracking down on corruption involving illegal development, human trafficking, and other transnational crimes. Their reforms came as the United States government more closely scrutinizes Chinese influence in this region.
Yap is at Guam's doorstep; the closest island in Micronesia to the Mariana archipelago.
Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas has been keenly aware of these international issues, commanding the Compacts of Free Association hearing in Congress and pushing strongly for the continuation of the compacts in favor of continued American interest in Micronesia and against the climbing power of China surrounding us.
Ms. Muna Barnes is the Legislature's chairwoman of military buildup matters and has been vocal in her efforts to balance buildup development with environmental stewardship, cultural preservation, and economic benefit for the local community. The speaker's office provided us with some information, which we provide below her news release:
Members of the 35th Guam Legislature and the Guam Buildup Office took a tour of the Live Fire Training Range Complex today. Speaker Tina Rose Muna Barnes, the oversight chairwoman on the Committee on the Guam Buildup had organized this site visit in response to a request from her colleague, Senator Therese M. Terlaje.
“This visit brought to perspective the importance of our role as a local government,” stated the Speaker. “It is apparent that our local government has some shortcomings when it comes to our responsibilities, and I will continue this dialogue and further engage other stakeholders,” added Muña Barnes.
The Speaker would like to thank Rear Admiral John Menoni for the opportunity. In a courtesy introductory meeting held in August, the Speaker and the Rear Admiral committed to maintaining open dialogue between the Department of Defense and the Oversight Chairwoman with regards to the Guam Military Buildup.
Over the last several months, the Committee on the Guam Buildup and the Leon Guerrero Tenorio Administration have held numerous meetings to understand the needs of our local regulatory and enforcement agencies with regards to the Buildup. “As we prepare for the first Civilian Military Coordination Council (CMCC) meeting in November, I am grateful that the Rear Admiral was able to provide me with a better understanding of where we are at, and where we need to be” concluded Speaker Muña Barnes.
“I personally want to have transparent, fact-based discussions with the leaders of Guam so they can make informed decisions, and this visit was a prime example of that cooperation,” said Rear Adm. John Menoni, Joint Region Marianas commander. “We thank them for their time today and look forward to our lasting partnership with Guam’s elected officials, and will continue to work for the protection of U.S. citizens and our great nation of America.”
Today, in addition to touring the site of the Live Fire Training Range Complex, the group also toured the site of the future Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, and were able to see various cultural discoveries that have been made at each site. There have been 16 cultural sites discovered on J001-B and P-75 since December, and recently there have been six discoveries of human bone fragments on P-715. A list of cultural discoveries accompanies this release.