The Marines


The U.S. Marine Corps is heavily vested throughout our Marianas Islands chain as most of us are aware. For better or for worse, the Marines will be embedded in the Marianas for decades to come. The ongoing construction of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz in Guam is the first such undertaking in seven decades. Questions generated by our Chamorro people include: “Why has the Navy department been tearing down the jungle and disrupting ancient Chamorro human resource corridors without our formal consent?”  And “Precisely how much water and wastewater will be generated by the Marines and what specifically are the Marines doing about all known pollution generated from the firing range complex?”
The bigger picture, a story of change
As our Chamorro Pacific Islander civilization continues to debate Marine-related developments and training exercises that continue to take place, the Marine Corps as a national organization is in the midst of transforming how they prepare and fight future wars. Marines have been returning to their historical roots of engaging adversaries from the sea since the longstanding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ended. 

Over the next eight years, the Marine Corps will continue down the path toward major organizational transformation. This trend will impact just about all aspects of the Marine Corps. Helicopter, tank, and infantry units will be closed, personnel cuts will be made, greater efforts will be made to retain outstanding young Marines who will otherwise leave or join the Army Guard or Reserve. 

Use of tactical and lethal drones will be greatly enhanced over the next several years and live training and experimental exercises will continue to grow, especially in the Marianas and our region. Marines will seek much greater use of small, unmanned ships to transit small groups of active-duty personnel while continuing to work closer with the Navy and international military partners. 

What is the goal? What does all this change mean as a practical matter?
The Marine Corps wants to be able to quickly move small numbers of its members into and out of spaces in ways that are hard to detect, and in ways that give each unit the ability to immediately support the destruction of enemy ships, drones, boats, personnel, or tanks. 

As previously mentioned, the Marines are aiming to purchase smaller ships that can move around personnel in ways that further improve the ability of getting people to the point of where they can fight with the highest levels of effectiveness as far away from the North American continent and as close to actual enemy maritime lines, as is possible. 

There are limitations with this ongoing change. The Marine Corps cannot be everywhere on the globe to fight at a moment’s notice. The Marines are also subordinate to the Navy when it comes to which organization gets most of the money appropriated by Congress.    

What does all this change mean for our Chamorro people and lawmakers when it comes to having the Marine Corps defend Guam and the Northern Marianas?
It means the Marines will be testing, experimenting, researching, and doing more of its most cutting edge and destructive training throughout our island chain. It means that increased military exercises of all kinds will expand over time to include massive use of drones and unmanned ships. 

But it also means from the point of view of defending our entire Mariana Islands chain very little. The Marine Corps is simply not trained to defend the island of Guam nor to defend the Northern Mariana Islands in a 21st century war.  

What we need to ask ourselves again is this: What plans are in place by the Pentagon to completely defend Guam, the NMI, and protect the Chamorro people? 

Guam and the NMI are not fully protected from a massive missile attack initiated by the Chinese from the ground, air, and sea. Our Mariana Islands chain doesn’t have a comprehensive multi-island nuclear bomb shelter infrastructure in place that all villagers can go to should our homes be attacked. 

Congressional representatives from Guam and the CNMI have much work to do
The congressmen from the NMI and Guam have much work to do when it comes to introducing authorization language in Congress to study, design, and fund the construction of a multi-island nuclear bomb shelter placement infrastructure. Currently there is nothing in place that enables Chamorros and villagers to go to, to increase their ability to survive a nuclear missile attack. The island doesn’t have a comprehensive shore-based missile defense infrastructure in place and there are no plans currently on the table for the Navy or anyone else to stand up an interim solution for added missile defense of Guam beyond a planned Aegis shore-based system to augment the THAAD system up at Andersen Air Force Base. 

This is not acceptable. 
Members of Congress representing Guam and the NMI need to come up with a plan that creates multiple short-term options for our multi-island village population that provides layers of protection against a massive, long-range nuclear missile attack by the Chinese. Much work remains undone because so far, deterrence seems to be a strategy with limited success, especially when we look at what China is doing with growing its overall national military resources and assets, along with its desire to prevent American and allied forces from accessing China’s near seas regions. 

Rick Arriola Perez | Author
Rick Arriola Perez is a U.S. military veteran who has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bank of Hawaii, and the government of Guam. He holds several degrees including ones from UCLA and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Rick is passionate about national security and foreign affairs in the Pacific Asia region and runs a blogsite called Guam Affairs at For more information, contact Perez at

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