8 Apr 2017

Guam Governor not supporting US military build-up

3:36 pm on 8 April 2017

The Governor of Guam, Eddie Calvo, has withdrawn his support for the build-up of United States military forces in the US territory.

The number of military personnel on Guam is set to surge from six to 11 thousand as troops are relocated from Okinawa, Japan.

Guam is strategically important to the United States, housing both an Air Force and Navy base. Here, a US F-16 flies along the island's coastline.

Guam is strategically important to the United States, housing both an Air Force and Navy base. Here, a US F-16 flies along the island's coastline. Photo: US Department of Defense

Mr Calvo said the federal government's ongoing denial of temporary worker visas for the territory is having a devastating impact on the territory's economy.

In a video posted by Pacific Daily News, Mr Calvo said he was reversing his staunch support of the build-up.

"Because of this federally induced labour shortage I have no choice," he said.

"We will not support further progress on the military realignment on Guam. That's so long as the federal government continues to choke our economy."

Mr Calvo said Guam had agreed to a "mutually beneficial build-up," but the federal government had not kept its part of the bargain.

He said the worker shortage was causing delays in many different projects either individual home projects or companies with stalled investments.

The Governor had also instructed Guam's Attorney General to join the H2B lawsuit filed last October by the Guam Contractors Association against the US government.

The Association claims the US immigation service is now only approving five percent of H2B temporary worker visa appliations as opposed to the previous 95 percent.

As a result, Mr Calvo said Guam's 1000-strong temporary workforce had been reduced to 178 foreign laborers.

He said this number is "woefully inadequate" to fill the need for nearly 4,000 laborers to construct facilities for the Department of Defense.

The Governor said he planned to dispatch letters to President Donald Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, informing them that the military build-up is happening at the expense of the people of Guam and cannot be allowed.