Military exercises in Guam to ramp up in June

Thousands of U.S. military will soon arrive in Guam for Defender Pacific 2021 and for Freedom Banner, according to Journal sources.

The U.S. Army’s Defender Pacific will run from June 25 to Aug. 10, though personnel are expected to arrive earlier and to be lodged and working at three tent sites in Guam, including Andersen Air Force Base. Around 3,000 Army personnel are expected on-island, though Defender Pacific will also take place “in other locations,” according to Joint Region Marianas.  

In addition, about 1,200 U.S. Marines will also be “boots on the ground” in Guam at the same time for the Freedom Banner exercise.

Freedom Banner is an annual 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force U.S. Marine Corps exercise that is typically performed with partner countries throughout the Pacific Rim.

According to Joint Region Marianas, which issued a release on June 12, the Army exercise involves planning by the U.S. Army Pacific and America’s First Corps and will be a “multi-domain operation” (See Editor’s Note). 

The U.S. Army has also been conducting other exercises in the Indo-Pacific region, like Pacific Pathways.

Andersen was also a site of Pacific Defender 2021 in January and Cope North 2021 in February, both of which incorporated personnel from other U.S. military branches and regional partner nations.

According to various sources, to include Defense News, in 2020 the U.S. Army was already planning for Defender Pacific to be a major exercise in 2021, and to expand the multi-domain concept in the Indo-Pacific this year.

Defender Pacific 2021 is again expected to bring benefits to Palau, a move that President Surangel S. Whipps told the Journal in May he welcomes. The U.S. Army Pacific also works through Task Force Oceania to create relationships with island nations in the Pacific, according to Defense News. According to Journal files, 150 personnel from Defender Pacific 2020 arrived in Angaur for five days from Sept.4, 2020 for airfield improvement work and to assist the state government in removal of a barge that was a hazard in the area. Both U.S. Air Force personnel and U.S. Marines were also in Palau last year, the latter through Task Force Koa Moana.

Economic benefit to island businesses from the exercises remains uncertain as of June 15.

Editor’s Note:

The U.S. Army Pacific is headquartered at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and is a part of the U.S. Department of the Army and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The U.S. Army Pacific includes the U.S. Army in Guam, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Alaska. The U.S. Army has around 85,000 troops in the Indo-Pacific region.

Aside from small numbers of other U.S. Army personnel, U.S. Army personnel in Guam included the Guam Army National Guard has active-duty members deployed to North West Field at Andersen to guard the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, according to Journal files.

America’s First Corps is a headquarters that manages activities for “more than 44,000 solders” at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and in the Pacific.

A “multi-domain operation” is now a part of the National Defense Strategy. The U.S. Army referred to it in 2018 as the idea that Army formations, should develop the ability “as part of [a] joint force, … to fight across all domains.” Domains in this sense would include land, sea, air, space, cyberspace, IT and so on.

Military exercises in the region underscore the area’s suitability for training, as well as geo-political tensions.


Military construction work continues to flow

A number of Requests for Proposals for military construction have upcoming deadlines.

These are for:

  • The construction of a “consolidated headquarters facility” for Marine Corps Base Guam.

The design-bid-build project will include utilities, site improvements, emergency power generation, access roads and parking. Bids are due Aug. 12 to Naval Facilities Engineering and Systems Command Pacific.

An RFP was issued June 8 for the construction (Design-Bid-Build) of a new Bachelor Officer Quarters tower for Unit Deployed Personnel Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and Officer personnel. This project will have a multi-story housing tower, with an attached one-story common area wing, and detached Utility building. The BOQ structure will house single-occupancy housing units with living, bedroom, closet, private bath, kitchen and laundry; building common areas including entry vestibule, waiting area, public toilets, elevators, janitor closets, mechanical and electrical rooms, corridors, breezeways, stair towers, managers’ offices; and multipurpose spaces including lounge area, game spaces, vending area, storage and miscellaneous support spaces. 

The project will be funded by the Government of Japan monies, also referred to as Mamizu funds. “Therefore, GoJ will be involved as observers and will be participating in the contracting process,” documents said. The contract completion period is anticipated to be 760 calendar days, according to the RFP, with bids due Aug. 11 to NAVFAC Pacific.

  • The renovation and modernization through design-build of Berth 2 at Naval Base Guam to accommodate T-AKE class ships and provide shore utilities including potable water, sewer, bilge and oily wastewater treatment system, electrical power, and telecommunications.

The work will include constructing a new sheet pile with king pile bulkhead system, a mooring dolphin, and mooring cleats and bollards.

According to the request for proposals, the government will evaluate Phase One proposals and select the most highly qualified offerors (not to exceed five) to submit Phase Two proposals. Those firms will be issued the Phase Two design-build RFP and given an opportunity to submit phase-two proposals. The project is estimated at between $25 million and $100 million, with bids due Aug. 6 to NAVFAC Pacific, according to documents.

  • As earlier reported, bids for the Small Business Design-Build Multiple Award Construction contract or MAC, are due June 15 at NAVFAC Pacific.

The intent is to award 10 indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts. According to the solicitation, “The work to be acquired under this contract is new construction, renovation/modernization, and routine repair/ maintenance … at various federal or military facilities and installations on Guam.  Occasionally, work may be required at federal or military facilities and installations in the Northern Mariana Islands and the outlying Pacific islands.”

In a two-phased approach, “Phase One will select the most highly qualified Offerors to submit Phase Two proposals.” The contract term will be a five-year base period and three option periods of 12 months each for a total maximum duration of eight years.  The maximum dollar value for all awarded contracts and all years is $600 million. 

  • In addition, according to a Request for Information, NAVFAC Marianas “is soliciting interest from interested parties capable of using the subject property to own and operate a concrete batch plant for a fair market rent lease.

“The military buildup on Guam and forecast of heavy civil works type construction projects on Navy Base Guam has identified the need and opportunity for a concrete batch plant onboard the installation.”

A concrete batch plant on Navy Base Guam would reduce construction delays and provide the installation with increased resiliency during contingencies, according to the RFI.

“NAVFAC, Marianas invites interested parties … to respond to this RFI indicating a desire to enter into a lease agreement and develop, operate and maintain a concrete batch plant that meets the government’s objectives,” the RFI said.

The proposed lot is of about two acres, but a specific site has not been identified.

“ … respondents should identify in their response what the optimal site would look like for a successful batch plant (i.e. close to water source, near installation construction gate, etc.),” the RFI said.  The long-term lease would run from about October 2023 for about a standard five years. However, the RFI said a longer term may be determined necessary

 Respondents were requested to comment on the length of lease, which length would be determined in actual negotiations. A virtual Industry Day was due to be held on June 15 for the RFI.

  • The U.S. Navy is also soliciting for “integrated solid waste management and pavement clearance services.”

The place of performance is given as “all Naval Base Guam activities and tenants, industrial and U.S. Naval Hospital facilities… other U.S. military activities or DoD/federal agencies at various activities/locations.”

The contract begins on Sept. 1 with a one-month Phase-In Mobilization Period followed by the full performance base period start date on Oct. 1. There will be an 11-month base period and four 12- month option periods. A one-month demobilization period will run concurrently in the final month of the fourth option period (August 2026). There will also be a 6-month optional contract extension. The contract period of performance will be a maximum of 66 months. Bids are due June 23 to NAVFAC Marianas.


GRMC requires vaccinations, NMI firefighters head to court

The Guam Regional Medical City announced June 11 it will require all personnel to be vaccinated against COVID-19. At the manager level and up, staff have until July 1 to get vaccinated and current and new employees have until Aug. 1.

The hospital said more than 80% of its workforce have been vaccinated since December, when vaccines were first offered to personnel.

Nine firefighters with the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services who were terminated for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations have taken the fire department and its commissioner to court. According to documents supplied to the Journal by Joseph E. Horey, attorney with Banes, Horey, Berman & Miller LLC, attorneys for the plaintiffs, “Several firefighters were reluctant to receive the vaccine due to their concerns over its possibly adverse short-term effects and its unknown long-term effects.”

The firefighters petitioned to be exempted, but instead were placed on administrative duty. Some then elected to be vaccinated, but the nine did not and were then issued termination notices, to be effective May 12.  The effective date was extended to May 21, when the plaintiffs “requested that the termination notices be rescinded, as the proposed terminations would violate their constitutional rights to individual privacy and due process of law.” The plaintiffs proposed ideas to Commissioner Dennis Mendiola for alternative duties, that would allow them to continue in their jobs, while reducing or eliminating the need for them to interact with others, or members of the public. On May 20, Mendiola rejected the proposals.

The lawsuit filed in the NMI Superior Court on June 9, calls for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging violation of the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs, deprivation of rights and property and equal protection of law.

The plaintiffs are asking that the court declare that the terminations were unlawful, that the terminations be set aside, that they be reinstated with back pay, and awarded costs.

A Texas judge on June 12 ruled against 117 workers (of 26,000) at the Houston Methodist Hospital who claimed that the hospital’s requirement that workers be vaccinated was illegal, and that the vaccine was dangerous. Those workers

 In other COVID -19 news, the Guam National Guard said in a June 11 release the 100,000th dose of vaccine was delivered at the University of Guam Calvo Field House – a second Pfizer dose for the woman.


 Guam charter school breaks ground

The iLearn Academy Charter School broke ground in Dededo on June 11, the third charter school in Guam. Core Tech International is constructing the 69,000 square foot school.

Funding for the $32 million school eventuated through the efforts of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Core Tech Capital to structure loans. mbj