Frequently Asked Questions
CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW MARINE CORPS BASE
Q: What is the reason for the relocation?
A: Ultimately, U.S. defense activities in the region, combined with robust political and economic cooperation, will continue to serve as the cornerstone of a stable regional order. The military’s forward presence and engagement play an essential role in strengthening the capabilities of Pacific nations and partners to defend and secure themselves. Building strong partnerships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region requires us to sustain and enhance American military strength in the region. Specifically for the Marine Corps, the purpose of the relocation to Guam is to establish Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) capabilities in the area. This ensures consistency with the force posture requirements adopted by the Department of Defense which fulfills U.S. national security obligations by providing mutual defense, deterring aggression, and dissuading coercion in the Western Pacific Region. The MAGTF elements operating out of Guam would be just one of four locations in the Pacific that are geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable.
Q: Why is Guam so important?
A: Guam’s strategic location is best suited to support joint forces throughout the region, particularly those forces in the Western Pacific that are most reliant on access to foreign nations’ training areas. The establishment of training on Guam reduces reliance on foreign countries to satisfy Pacific Command’s joint training requirements. Also Guam’s location enables the U.S. to host allied and partner nations in multi-lateral training exercises which helps to build relationship with partners in the Asia-Pacific.
Q: Where will the Marines live and work?
A: The main base for the Marines is planned to be located in Finegayan. Family Housing for those Marines and their families who will be permanently stationed on Guam will be located on Andersen Air Force Base. Housing for single Marines and those who are rotational forces will be barracks that will be built at Finegayan site.
Q: When are the Marines expected to be relocated? How many Marines will be relocated?
A: III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan is postured to begin relocation as soon as appropriate infrastructure is in place to support the Marines and their mission. There will be a mix of military and civilian base personnel between now and that time, when Marine Corps Base Guam is expected to reach Initial Operating Capability. The number of Marines and dependents moving to Guam will increase each year through until the Corps reaches its goal of basing 5,000 Marines and approximately 1,300 family members here.
Q: How will construction in the Finegayan area affect the wildlife and the surrounding environment?
A: As with any development project, there will be impacts to the surrounding environment. However, through mitigation measures put in place by DOD, these impacts will be reduced and offset to the greatest possible extent while balancing the requirement to develop the cantonment area for the Marine Corps Base on Guam.
• The DoD has entered into an agreement to set aside 5,234 acres for rehabilitation of the Guam Kingfisher habitat – up to $2 million per year for 10 years.
• For every acre of native limestone forest developed for the relocation, the DoD has committed to restoring at least the same acreage of Guam’s forests impacted by invasive plant and animal species.
• Brown Tree Snake Suppress & Control: USDA began field work in Jan 2017 for Bait Optimization study at Tarague, AAFB.
Q: What will happen with cultural artifacts or human remains if found in the areas slated for development?
A: Mitigation processes include reviewing projects as they are developed to confirm the identification of historic properties and appropriate measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse effects to cultural resources. The 2011 Programmatic Agreement requires monitoring of ground-disturbing activities by a qualified archeologist, halting activities and taking measures to avoid or minimize impacts until further review or investigation can be accomplished. An evaluation of a discovery and coordination with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office will commence to determine appropriate action(s) and possible eligibility for a National Register of Historic Properties listing.
Q: Will traditional healers and traditional herbalists be able to collect medicinal plants prior to vegetation clearance?
A: Yes, this is a commitment from the 2011 Programmatic Agreement and part of the existing Base Access Plan. Restrictions on how plants are collected may be imposed by Commanding Officers of each installation to protect healers and traditional practitioners from the hazards of unexploded ordnance. Unexploded ordnance awareness training will be provided NAVFAC Marianas prior to medicinal plant collection activities and all guests shall be escorted at all times.
Q: Will these developments create any job opportunities for the community?
A: Yes. First, the planned military construction will produce skilled labor and construction related employment opportunities for Guam. The Department of the Navy will consult with local officials on workforce training and curriculum to help locally source these jobs. Also, with the arrival of 5,000 Marines, there will be an increase in the amount of money in the economy, through both wholesale and retail spending on goods and services, as well as taxes that accrue through these transactions. Lastly, the new base will create a need for longer term jobs and service contracts to support the Marines and their families. This increase of funds has already been underway as federal funds have previously been allocated for road improvements and port modernization – the lifeline of the island, as well as construction that has started on other locations on the island.
Q: How are Marines good for Guam?
A: U.S. Marines are great neighbors and good for the economy. With the arrival of Marines, there will be an increase the amount of money in the economy, both through taxation and retail purchases. Also, the new base will create a need for construction jobs and service contracts, while federal funds have already been allocated for road improvements and port modernization – the lifeline of the island.
Q: What has been accomplished so far for the buildup?
A: The 2015 Record of Decision for the establishment of a Marine Corps base on Guam committed the Department of the Navy to seek federal funds for the responsible introduction of Marine Corps forces on the island. To date, funds have been spent on improvements on the construction and modernization of infrastructure on Naval Base Guam (NBG) and Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB) as well as numerous infrastructure projects in the community. So far, numerous intersection and bridge improvements have been completed off of base including the modernization of the Guam commercial port. On military installations, wharves have been improved to support a more robust contingency response force and dozens of construction projects have been completed to prepare for the establishment of a U.S. Marine presence on the island.
Q: Will the Marines’ arrival make traffic worse?
A: The arrival of Marines on Guam consists of less than 1% of the population. The Marines who will be able to own vehicles on Guam consists of less than 1/10th of 1% of the population. Also, with the completion and further planning of Defense Access Roads projects, the arrival of the Marine Corps on the island will have a net-positive gain on traffic throughout the island.
LIVE-FIRE TRAINING RANGE COMPLEX
Q. Why is the Live Fire Training Range Complex being constructed at Northwest Field?
A. The Live Fire Training Range Complex is being built on Northwest Field to keep construction projects within the existing military areas on the island. During the environmental review process from 2009 to 2015, the 2011 Programmatic Agreement resulted in the need to consider probabilistic Surface Danger Zone (SDZ) models to determine the safety buffer around the LFTRC, which reduced the potential size of the range. During the follow-on review processes, comments from the public that shaped decision-making included building the LFTRC on existing lands under federal jurisdiction and minimizing impacts to existing public land use (i.e. Route 15 raceway/Pagat cultural activities). After careful consideration of the analysis and agency/public participation, the Navy decided to implement LFTRC Alternative 5 at Northwest Field per the 2015 Record of Decision.
Q. How will the construction of the live-fire training ranges impact the native forest?
A. While there will be clearing as part of the range construction; this does not result in complete deforestation. The footprint of the physical range is a small proportion of the entire safety area required for the complex. While the complex consists of approximately 700 acres, only 315 acres will be developed for the actual ranges. Of that, only 89 acres will be native limestone forest. Additionally, there are measures for forest restoration at a mitigation factor of 1:1 for impacts related to the buildup. This means for every acre developed, another acre is restored somewhere else. Moreover, there is an additional 380 acres of conservation work at Northwest Field that was included in the 2017 Biological Opinion for listed plant species.
Q. Are there any endangered species within the Guam National Wildlife Refuge Ritidian Unit?
A. Many locations within military installations on Guam are home to protected plant and wildlife. Northwest Field is among those areas. To ensure that appropriate conservation measures are included in the Marine Corps relocation program, careful review of the area was completed to inventory affected species and habitat within and in the vicinity of the proposed development area. To avoid, minimize or offset impacts to the environment, the military is committed to measures stated in the Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Q. What about the Hayun Lagu tree, isn’t it the last of its kind on Guam?
A. The Hayun Lagu is an adult seedbearing tree located in the area. Mitigation efforts have been taken to ensure that the range will not have an effect on the tree, including a 100 foot buffer from development. Also there have been significant efforts, collecting seeds and replanting seeds form tree, there are currently numerous trees in varying levels of growth and development planted on Guam. The Marine Corps relocation includes the propagation of an additional 30 seedlings from the mother tree.
Q. Will the range damage or contaminate Guam’s water resources?
A. No. Contamination of groundwater and nearshore environment due to LFTRC operations is an issue that was analyzed under the Environmental Impact Statement. Strict environmental monitoring and procedures for ranges are setup to ensure that range activities will not result in damage to water sources. Marine Corps range management programs include risk assessments and monitoring for the Live Fire Training Range Complex to determine the frequency of range cleanups (harvesting of bullets) to prevent unacceptable risks to the environment.
Q. Why can’t you move the LFTRC east or west so you don’t have to restrict access to Ritidian?
A. The complex cannot be moved east or west without encroaching upon private property in Jinapsan and Urunao. Also, the current configuration of the ranges within the complex provides the smallest possible footprint while maintaining the ability to use all the ranges simultaneously. While the ranges themselves are only a small part of the complex, the surrounding safety areas of all the ranges overlap each other to the greatest possible extent.
Q. Will the ranges restrict access to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ritidian Unit?
The Guam National Wildlife Refuge Ritidian Unit will remain open and access to it and surrounding waters will be restricted only when the machine gun range inside the complex is in use. According to the 2015 Record of Decision, range training may not exceed 39 weeks per year. Additionally, access restrictions are not expected until mid-2024. These access restrictions are an important precautionary measure intended to ensure public safety within the range and its extended safety zones.
Q: Will the public still be able to access the Guam National Wildlife Refuge Ritidian Unit when the firing range is not in use?
A: Yes, the public will still have access to the areas in the National Wildlife Refuge that are currently open to the public when the machine gun range is not active. The public will still be able to access Ritidian while the other ranges of the training complex are in use.
The Ground Truth - More FAQs related to buildup topics