Κυριακή, 1 Ιουνίου 2008

Πόσο σημαντική είναι τελικά η θαλάσσια κυριαρχία ;

Στα πλαίσια της κουβέντας που έχει ανοίξει .... παραθέτω ένα χαρακτηριστικότατο παράδειγμα!

Defense Secretary Robert Gates taking an aerial tour of the Island of Guam on Friday. (Sgt. Jerry Morrison, Dept. of Defense via AP)

Dipping low over this tropical island in a navy helicopter on Friday, the U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, gazed out over one of the largest U.S. military construction projects in decades.

Over the next six years, the Pentagon is planning to spend more than $15 billion to upgrade and expand World War II-era air bases, barracks and ports, and to carve out of the jungle new housing and headquarters to accommodate thousands of additional troops and their families who are scheduled to arrive.

It is all part of the military's effort to remake Guam into a strategic hub in the western Pacific, underscoring both the increasing geopolitical importance of Asia to Washington as well as the Pentagon's priority to project power from U.S. territory rather than from foreign bases.

Gates made Guam his first stop on a weeklong trip to Asia, his fourth to the region since becoming defense secretary 17 months ago. He also plans to attend a regional security conference in Singapore and confer with defense officials in Thailand and South Korea.

An underlying theme of the trip, Gates said, would be "affirming that the United States is not distracted by our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from our long-term interests here in Asia."

With U.S. officials warily watching China's military buildup and the continuing standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program, the massive construction projects already under way and on the drawing board here are striking.

The military owns about one-third of this island, and much of the remaining jungle will be bulldozed to build military headquarters, housing, hospitals, schools and commissaries, officials said.

By 2014, some 8,000 marines are expected to move here from their base in Okinawa, requiring a new headquarters, housing and a small-arms training range. The Japanese government is paying $6 billion to help defray costs of the move and the new constructions here, said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

Japanese defense forces will train and conduct exercises with U.S. troops here, said Morrell, in a historical twist of fate. Japan's occupation of this American island started three days after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and continued until U.S. soldiers returned to Guam on July 21, 1944, a date celebrated here as Liberation Day.

The navy, which has three submarines, a helicopter squadron and supply ships based here, is planning to dredge the harbor to accommodate large marine amphibious ships.

Since 2004, the air force has been rotating B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers through Guam from bases in the United States. The rotations are designed to support American security in the Asia-Pacific while other U.S.Middle East. forces are diverted to the

The air force is also planning to build hangars for three Global Hawk surveillance aircraft and to expand facilities to accommodate periodic rotations of fighter jets, including its newest fighter, the F-22, from bases in Hawaii and Alaska.

"Andersen in six years will not look anything like it does today," Brigadier General Doug Owens, the base commander here, told reporters traveling with Gates.

In all, Gates said, more than 12,000 additional U.S. troops would move here, more than doubling the current total of about 7,000 service members.

U.S. and Guamanian officials acknowledge that the wave of new construction - as well as the more than 25,000 workers likely to flock to the island to supplement local laborers - would require carefully balancing environmental protection and national security priorities. (ΕΔΩ ΓΕΛΑΜΕ ΑΛΛΑ....ΤΕΛΟΣΠΑΝΤΩΝ...)

Gates said the Pentagon wants to complete these projects "in a way that's sensitive to the needs of the people of Guam as well as to our military needs."

Source: International Herald Tribune

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