HAGÅTÑA Guam "" Japan’s increasing military role was indicative of U.S. support for a continued U.S.-Japan alliance Richard Lawless U.S. deputy defense undersecretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs said.

"Japan "" in effect "" has agreed to transform the alliance with us and assume more responsibility for the alliance more responsibility for roles missions and capabilities " he said.

Lawless said the 2008 placement of the George Washington nuclear powered battle group was "another manifestation of our obligations to the alliance."

U.S. Marine forces that will move to Guam would still play a role in the U.S.- Japan alliance he said. "Anywhere we’re based in the Pacific … provides a platform for us to execute our responsibilities."

Lawless was speaking in Guam immediately after meeting with the governor of the territory. The meeting came after the May 1 agreement between Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on how to split the cost of moving 8 000 U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa

Guam is important in the new structure he said.

"It’s a relocation of our forces from Okinawa but it’s really part and parcel of the entire global posture realignment the so-called forward basing in the Pacific. Guam plays a very very important role.

"One of the conclusions we drew is that it would be very useful to us "" to the United States government to the treaty obligations we have throughout the Pacific "" to be more forward postured to the degree that we could be and Guam has always been an element of that."

The cost of the long-term move of U.S. forces to Guam was a factor he said.

The issue has been "How do we create this plus-up? How do we budget for the large amounts of money that will be required "" billions of dollars that will be required to increase the U.S. posture on Guam and increase it in a way that is an enduring presence " he said. "We don’t want to go somewhere and just go there temporarily we want to figure out where we’re going to be in the world on a long-term basis."

"When we began negotiating with the Japanese we decided what we wanted to put in Guam both with regard to the Navy the Air Force and the relocation of the Marines. Lawless made the remarks after meeting with the governor of Guam on May 23 his first visit to the island since Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reached an agreement on April 23 on how to split the cost of moving 8 000 U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa paving the way for an overall agreement.

The deputy undersecretary referred to "a very preliminary Guam master plan." He said the cost-sharing plan with the Japanese was responsive to that plan.

The master plan would be completed by July or August he said and the Japanese had agreed to pay for direct and indirect costs of moving the Marines to Guam.

"Those costs they have agreed to take responsibility for are primarily in the area of actual construction of operational facilities. In the indirect area it relates more to construction support facilities "¦ some infrastructure family housing is a big issue."

He said "Our assumption is that the Japanese will do so in partnership with the people here on Guam. All the contracts will be bid through a normal Department of Defense contracting procedure. They’re making a commitment to a certain level of funding [$6.09 billion] that will support the overall $10 billion- requirement that we have to build the facilities for the Marines."

"Our intention would be that the workforce on Guam would have priority consideration. Given the volume of construction that we’re going to have I’m assuming that by 2008/2009 "" there’ll be a huge amount of construction going on here. We’ll be executing that construction over a fairly short period of time "" about five years. There’s no presumption that there will be an off-island commitment to the Japanese " Lawless said.

"We are not going to put additional burdens on the infrastructure "" there will be sufficient funding in that $10 billion to complement and improve the infrastructure on Guam. We will at least add infrastructure capacity equal to the additional personnel we’re bringing to Guam if not have a net plus-up in that capacity " he said.

Lawless also was scheduled to meet with the island’s legislature and members of its business community the same day.

Besides the arrival of 8 000 Marines and their anticipated 10 000 family members Guam also expects an increase in military presence at Andersen Air Force Base. The buildup on Guam will mean construction of hangars magazines housing schooling commissary and exchange buildings and medical facilities.

Lawless said Japan would increase its responsibilities "Under the realignment "" the alliance transformation and realignment agreement we have reached with them "¦ in that agreement we talk about Japan increasing its responsibility in roles missions and capabilities. It’s a very important term "" it appears very strongly in that 29 Oct. document."

The government of Guam has its own planning effort it’s undertaken for the past year. The undersecretary said "We’ve got our Guam master plan we’ve been working on. The idea is to bring them together in a late summer early fall time frame and make sure that we integrate these two plans."

"This is a very ambitious plan to spend $10 billion over a relatively short time " he said.

"Within the commitment we’ve received from the Japanese is a pool of funds which we "" the government of Guam and the military planners "" will decide how to use. It’s a pool of funds that we have to decide how best to execute against the infrastructure " he said.

"If we’re looking at 2006 "" to 2014 that was the discussion today "" how to integrate those two plans.’

At the press conference Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Forces commented on the progress of the plan to relocate 8 000 Marines to Guam. He said "This is a pretty fast paced effort to plan for a responsible and mutually beneficial bed down of a large number of Marines. We began our detailed planning in September of last year with the letting of the contract. By all standards I’ve seen for how big an effort this is we’ve proceeded very well. In fact we didn’t expect to have the joint Guam-Military Master Plan ready for publication until September or October. We’ll have it in June presented for approval in July. The keyword is for "approval." Only once it’s approved do we have details that we can present to the people of Guam and the Government."

Leaf said "The Guam Military Master plan that will tell how the U.S. Pacific Command intends to execute this agreement will be approved by Adm. William Fallon [commander of U.S. Pacific forces]. He will approve it with the consultation of his component commanders "" Army Navy Air Force and Marines "" it’s not just a Marine Corps issue." Leaf said the master plan would then go into a normal approval plan for projects and funding ""to the U.S. Congress which typically allocates annual funds for military hardware and construction as part of the Department of Defense budget. "The intent is to present the plan capable of being approved by Adm. Fallon in mid-July. Leaf said no specifics of the build-up were yet available. "We don’t have the details because we don’t have an approved plan yet." Leaf said.

At the press conference Leaf also commented on his meeting with Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Benigno R. Fitial. "There were some reports of a meeting that I had with the CNMI governor recently. But we didn’t finalize anything. The discussions were positive and fruitful. But we don’t have an approved plan yet. When we finalize our plan we’ll take that to the CNMI governor and the CNMI public."

The Undersecretary said "I don’t want to understate the magnitude or complexity of this. It’s really important that we do it right and that we get it right the first time because we’re going to have a lot of people looking at this. If we’re going to do this right for Guam we’d better make sure we get the whole thing right over the entire eight-year to ten year run of the program."

Gov. Felix P. Camacho said "We’ve requested to have a seat at the table to bring up local issues of concern that affect the quality of life. We’re very sensitive to this and we want to make sure that it’s beneficial not only for the nation but for Guam and our people." MBJ