HAGATNA, Guam (AP)—The U.S. Navy awarded a contract Friday for utility construction and site improvements for a future Marine Corps base on Guam.
The announcement came amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the U.S. just days after the North considered a preemptive missile strike on the strategically important U.S. territory of Guam.
“This effort is a big step in strengthening Guam, as part of the Marianas strategic hub, ensuring the Marine Corps’ ability to sustain a forward presence within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Lt. Gen. David Berger, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said in a statement. “Historically, the Marine Corps has played an essential role in our nation’s ability to deter adversaries and defend, as well as strengthen the capabilities of our partners and allies within the region. We are as committed as ever in maintaining that role and responsibility.”
The Navy said the $164.9 million Japanese-funded contract was awarded in support of an international agreement between the U.S. and Japan. The relocation of Marines to the island has been in the works for over a decade.
The money will be used for utilities and site improvements at Finegayan. The contract includes construction of utilities, roads and infrastructure as well as removal of unexploded ordnance and munitions.
“[Friday’s] contract award is a clear demonstration of the Marine Corps’ commitment to Guam and the continued progress we are making to move forward with the realignment,” said Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU). …“This is a significant step forward for the buildup as it is the first award since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in collaboration with the Department of Navy, issued the biological opinion. I am committed to ensuring that Guam’s workforce issues are resolved to support all civilian and military construction needs in Guam.
“I will continue to push for my provision in the [National Defense Authorization Act] to give [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] flexibility in approving H-2B visas for workers in our military construction and health care industries, as well as efforts to provide a broader solution for Guam and the region. I look forward to the awardee partnering with local businesses and providing opportunities for our people as the contract is carried out.” (With Saipan Tribune)