Major exercise to begin in Guam and region soon

U.S. Navy and Air Force assets are shown during Valiant Shield 2020.
U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Lauren Chatmas

Valiant Shield 2022 will begin May 20 and end June 22 in and around Guam.

In 2020, more than 11,000 members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps., army and air force participated in the biennial exercise.

Rear Adm. Benjamin R. Nicholson said at a press briefing on May 9 that this year’s event will be a “pretty big exercise – as it has been in the past.” Other islands are expected to see some presence, he said. “It’s going to be a little bit more regional.”

Guam may see personnel on shore visits during the monthlong exercise, with some already lodged at island hotels.

The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was among ships that participated in 2020.

The carrier recently completed an in-port maintenance period at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, according to the ship. 

Aside from those force movements, Nicholson said at the press briefing that the island can expect to see traffic between Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam, possibly at night.

The USNS Mercy hospital ship deployed for Pacific Partnership 2022 on May 3 and was in Hawaii on May. 13, according to the ship.

Also, Naval Base Guam will conduct a “Heavy Weather Exercise” from May 23 to May27.

During the training, the NBG emergency alert system, commonly referred to as the Giant Voice, will be activated, according to a May 16 release.

 

GVB committee meetings go ahead, flights ramping up for Guam and Saipan

Iakopo

While its board is not meeting due to disagreements between the bureau’s president and board, the Guam Visitors Bureau is still holding committee meetings.

On May 17, the Japan and Korea marketing committees will meet.

This follows a May 12 statement that “Jeju Air plans to increase flight frequency between Incheon and Guam from four times per week to possibly daily starting in July, and to launch a Busan-Guam route four times per week in the near future.” The remarks were made by the airline’s CEO in a meeting with Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero and Carl T.C. Gutierrez, president of GVB, according to a May 13 release from the bureau.

Meanwhile, Priscilla M. Iakopo, told the Journal earlier this month, “Given the current situation and with only international flights from South Korea, such as Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, Tway, Air Pusan, and Seoul, on air service arrangements between South Korea and the [Northern] Marianas, our latest estimates of forecasted total arrivals (from Korea) for the Fiscal Year 2022 may be up to 35,000.”

She said this is subject to change and may be adjusted when flights begin.

Japan is expected to double the number of people permitted into the country per day to 20,000 in June, may lift ban on foreign tourists in July.

In expectation of that and summer travel, United Airlines also confirmed two additional flights between Guam and Japan in May for a total of nine weekly and an additional two in June for a total of 11.

Iakopo said MVA is also targeting the Japan market.

“As for flights from Japan, the MVA issued a Request for Proposal under the CNMI TRIP program to entice airlines to provide direct flights from Japan to the Marianas. It is important to note that without direct flights, tourists from Japan would not have direct access and air supply creates the demand. At the same time, the MVA is working along with its stakeholders in opening up this market this year strategically and effectively as our commitment to the Japan market remains a priority,” Iakopo said.

MVA is continuing to market the Northern Mariana islands, she said.

“Aside from our social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, and the MVA website boosted with destination photos, event flyers, etc., the MVA has continued to provide authentic experiences in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota with signature events such as Saipan Marathon, Coconut Festival, Tinian Hot Pepper Festival, Taste of the Marianas, Gilita Chamorro Festival, etc. We have conducted several FAMTours, homeshopping promotions, etc. At the same time, we are currently working with our partners in finalizing more marketing strategies.”

 

Ban on paper bags in Guam extended

The ban on paper bags has been extended in Guam until July 1, 2025. Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero signed the legislation into law on May 13.

 

Grants update:

The Northern Mariana Islands is receiving $1,56 million for job training and career services from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration – funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, according to a May 13 release from the Office of Gregorio “Kilili” Camacho Sablan, the NMI’s delegate to Congress. Of that, $453,848 will go toward youth, $429,597 for adult, and $679,289 to dislocated workers. This support includes counseling, work search assistance, and development of individual employment plans. The youth funds rolled out in April; adult and dislocated worker funds will be available in two separate appropriations: base funds on July 1 and advance funds on Oct. 1.

The Commonwealth Ports Authority has been awarded a $270,000 Department of Transportation grant for use at the Francisco C. Ada Saipan International Airport, according to Sablan’s office. Funds will be used to reconstruct 26,778 feet of the existing perimeter fencing to deter access by unauthorized persons and vehicles onto the airfield.

 

For your diary:

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing at noon on May 19 CHamoru Standard time, or May 18 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time at  https://youtu.be/cKk-Bht_Ino on the fiscal 2023 Budget Request of the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. The request includes $10.5 million increase in discretionary funding as compared to FY22 enacted appropriations. The request also calls for parity in federal funding for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, and the Supplemental Security Income programs for all U.S. territories.

For OIA budget details, go to https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/fy2023-bib-oia-508.pdf

Speakers include the director of the budget office of the OIA, Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero and Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres.

 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Honolulu Office will hold a virtual benefits workshop on May 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., CHamoru Standard Time.

To join the meeting, go to https://veteransaffairs.webex.com/wbxmjs/joinservice/sites/veteransaffairs/meeting/download

To download the slides, go to

https://veteransaffairs.webex.com/veteransaffairs/j.php?MTID=meae10d91e31d1265ca737f98cb90495  You can join via Computer, Phone Audio (1-404-397-1596, 27641406722##), or Webex Mobile App. Meeting Password: imPVjHr*724. mbj