GUAM – President Obama signed the annual U.S. defense policy bill into law on Saturday while on vacation in Hawaii. The new law caps defense authorizations at $662 billion for the year and officially puts 2012 Guam military buildup projects on hold.
The new law does not, however, affect previous authorizations for the military construction program meant to prepare Guam for the transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa. Of the almost $2 billion in U.S.-Japan appropriations already authorized from previous fiscal years, less than $500 million is in procurement.
Last week, Tokyo proposed cutting its new fiscal year funding for the Marine transfer to 7.38 billion yen from 51.86 billion yen. The Japanese government does, however, propose maintaining an additional 670 million yen for designing and planning so that a related project to relocate the U.S.’s Futenma air base to Okinawa’s eastern coast can move forward quickly if the U.S. ends up restoring its funding for the troop realignment.
Programs that were cut from the Pentagon’s spending this year include over $150 million in military construction projects on Guam. The U.S. Senate succeeded in its push to freeze Guam military buildup funding this year, at least until the Pentagon can deliver a more detailed implementation plan for the troop realignment.
The Guam cuts will directly affect a planned upgrade to North Ramp utilities at Andersen Air Force Base and new water utilities at the location of the planned Marine base at Finegayan in Dededo. It also means that only incremental funding will be authorized for an Air Force fuel systems maintenance hangar for the Guam Strike – a program that is transforming Andersen Air Force Base into a Pacific hub for global reconnaissance that includes new Global Hawk technology.
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