Guam is waiting on word about whether it will be a part of a huge restructuring of military assets and resources around the nation.

The issue became polarized on Guam 15 years ago after the release of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990. That same year Defense Secretary Dick Cheney visited Guam and announced as one of his top priorities the consolidation of the former Naval Air Station Agana with Andersen Air Force Base. In 1993 Defense Secretary Les Aspin released a preliminary list of base closures. When the document was first released many Guam leaders believed NAS would be on the list — it was not. The preliminary list was then handed to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. While many communities across the U.S. were pleading with top military brass and congressional leaders to keep area bases open Guam officials were adamant about wanting the closure of NAS. Subsequent letters a protest by local activists and a presentation to the BRAC Commission at a California hearing led to the inclusion of NAS to the list and eventually its closure.

May 16 the official release date of BRAC No. 5’s preliminary list will leave another mark in Guam’s history regarding the change in the U.S. military’s footprint around the world and its effects locally.

On May 16 the Department of Defense enters the deliberation stage and gathers and analyzes internal data to come up with recommendations for a new BRAC commission. The commission will hold regional meetings to solicit public input prior to making its recommendations. The commission will forward its recommendations to the president. The president will forward recommendations to Congress.

According to the Department of Defense “Congress has 45 legislative days to act on the commission report on an all-or-none basis. After that time the Commission’s realignment and closure recommendations become binding on the Department. Implementation must start within two years and actions must be complete within six years.”

The department Web site quotes Donald H. Rumsfeld U.S. secretary of state for defense in 2002 as saying “Congress authorized a base realignment and closure round in 2005. At a minimum BRAC 2005 must eliminate excess physical capacity; the operation sustainment and recapitalization of which diverts scarce resources from defense capability. However BRAC 2005 can make an even more profound contribution to transforming the department by rationalizing our infrastructure with defense strategy. BRAC 2005 should be the means by which we reconfigure our current infrastructure into one in which operational capacity maximizes both warfighting capability and efficiency.”

The Department of Defense’s April 2003 Transformation Planning Guidance document indicates the Department of Defense will be undergoing a transformation “ a process that shapes the changing nature of military competition and cooperation through new combinations of concepts capabilities people and organizations that exploit our nation’s advantages and protect against our asymmetric vulnerabilities to sustain our strategic position which helps underpin peace and stability in the world.”

The Web site also states “The BRAC 2005 process will help find innovative ways to consolidate realign or find alternative uses for current facilities to ensure that the U.S. continues to field the best-prepared and best-equipped military in the world. BRAC will also enable the U.S. military to better match facilities to forces meet the threats and challenges of a new century and make the wisest use of limited defense dollars.” MBJ