US Marine Live-Fire Range to Be Constructed on ‘Pristine’ Land in Guam

© REUTERS / Erik De CastroA view of U.S. military planes parked on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 15, 2017
A view of U.S. military planes parked on the tarmac of Andersen Air Force base on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 15, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Guam will soon be the site of a US military live-firing range to support Marines relocating from Okinawa, following an $87 million contract that was awarded to Black Construction Corp last week.

Between 2022 and 2026 there are plans for about 4,100 Marines to relocate from Okinawa to Guam. This drawdown is part of a 2013 agreement between Japan and the US for Washington to reduce its footprint on Okinawa, which houses most of the United States’ military bases in Japanese territory.

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Andersen Air Force Base will situate the complex near what community members say is the last pristine area on the island: a wildlife refuge that will have to be partially closed when the range is in use. 

Col. Brent Bien, who oversees US Marine activity in Guam, said in a statement, "We are committed to Guam, and our forward presence here will play an essential role in strengthening the military's ability to maintain regional security and protect the nation's interests in the Pacific."

One of the groups opposing the range’s construction is Prutehi Litekyan, who has been reaching out to local political leaders to put a halt to what spokeswoman Sabina Perez called a "toxic legacy."

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Guam congresspeople Sen. Fernando Esteves (R-Yona), Speaker Benjamin Cruz (D-Tumon) and Vice Speaker Therese Terlaje (D-Yona) have expressed support for the group.

"No amount of money can compensate for the permanent destruction, loss of access and other adverse impacts to Guam's historic sites," Terlaje said on Friday. "One hundred eighty-seven acres of limestone forests, endangered species and fishing areas that are part of this particular live-fire training range project."

"The Department of Defense has not kept its promises to avoid these adverse impacts to Guam and in fact continues to expand its control over lands and waters of Guam and the Marianas," she added, according to AP.

Perez said the group is trying to schedule meetings with military officials, and Terlaje is appealing to Gov. Eddie Calvo to meet with federal officials to try and avoid the range’s potential impact

The complex is expected to be complete by November 2020.

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