Archive for February, 2010

More on the Guam military buildup

February 26, 2010

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Yesterday I saw a bit of news blasting the Guam DEIS from the perspective of the EPA, and today the Joint Guam Project Office (JGPO) responded that they saw the criticisms coming:

JGPO anticipated pushback on DEIS

Posted: Feb 26, 2010 7:53 AM TST Updated: Feb 26, 2010 7:53 AM TST

Guam – Responding to the USEPA’s concerns with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the military buildup, Joint Guam Program Office Spokesperson Major Neil Ruggerio says although they have worked closely with the EPA and other federal and local agencies during the development of the DEIS, they fully anticipated that formal agency comments would point out deficiencies and areas requiring revision.

The USEPA found the DEIS to be “environmentally unsatisfactory”. Ruggerio says the Department of Defense is committed to working with the EPA and other federal agencies to fund solutions for existing issues on Guam.

In reality, no matter how long the military would have taken to put together the DEIS (bear in mind that the released proposal took several years to complete), for a project of this scope there is no way that the finished (draft) product could be able to assuage the concerns of “all comers.”  Of course there are going to be problems with the DEIS and the buildup it describes – it involves a great deal of change.  Of course JGPO expected “pushback.”  What will be interesting to see is whether the controversy over the buildup in the wake of the release of the DEIS will actually succeed in materially changing the scope of the buildup project or if it effectively slows the project implementation timeline.  Construction is supposed to start this year, but the DEIS has to be approved first.  I would bet that the real impact will come from the Japanese and what they decide this May about the U.S. Marine airbase on Okinawa, not from issues like this coming from Guam.

Sino-US military exchanges delayed

February 25, 2010

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Sino-US military exchanges delayed

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-25 07:33

Experts say Beijing is taking long-term view to US relations

Beijing has delayed some high-level military visits to the US in retaliation for Washington’s proposed arms deal with Taiwan, Pentagon officials said on Tuesday.

The officials, whose names were not cited, told Reuters that China has postponed planned visits to the US by its chief of the General Staff of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Chen Bingde, as well as by one of its top regional commanders.

Related readings:
Sino-US military exchanges delayed US arms sale to Taiwan reveals ignorance, disrespect
Sino-US military exchanges delayed Chinese media quiz US ambassador over arms deal
Sino-US military exchanges delayed China may sanction arms-selling companies with options
Sino-US military exchanges delayed China urges US companies stop arms sales to Taiwan

A planned visit to China by the commander of the US Pacific Command has also been postponed, they said.

“There are other, as yet unscheduled, events the PRC (People’s Republic of China) is not considering for the time being,” a Pentagon official was quoted as saying.

In its toughest response in three decades to a US arms sale to Taiwan, Beijing announced earlier this month that it would curtail military exchanges with Washington, and sanction US companies involved in the deal, and warned of the severe harm the sale would cause bilateral ties.

The Pentagon has attached great importance to military exchanges with China as it is one of the few ways for it to get really close to China’s PLA which they deem mysterious.

The officials, however, said Beijing has been quite restrained. So far no visits from China are formally cancelled, while China has not imposed sanctions on any US firms involved in the arms deal as it threatened.


OSC Views Defense Websites in Taiwan | Secrecy News

February 19, 2010

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Came across this at the Secrecy News blog today.

OSC Views Defense Websites in Taiwan

February 5th, 2010 by Steven Aftergood

Websites and blogs dealing with military issues in Taiwan were surveyed in a recent report from the DNI Open Source Center that has not been publicly released.  See “Taiwan: Unofficial Military Websites” (pdf), Open Source Center Media Aid, January 12, 2010.

via OSC Views Defense Websites in Taiwan | Secrecy News.

Most of these websites I had not heard of before.  Looks like it might be time to update the blogroll!

Guam to U.S. Military: “We have our foot on the brakes”

February 18, 2010
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Well, I had been wondering how the whole Guam Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) business concerning the relocation of some 8,000 Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam was playing out.  Not unpredictably, there’s some, umm, pushback.  Courtesy of Stars and Stripes:

Guam leaders balk at U.S. military buildup

TOKYO — Guam’s leaders in recent days have ratcheted up criticism of a proposed massive military buildup, with the island’s sole delegate to Congress vowing to withdraw support unless the Pentagon slows its plans.

In her biennial speech Tuesday night to the Guam Legislature, Madeleine Bordallo asked the Navy to stretch the construction phase to eight to 10 years as the military moves 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Currently, the plan calls for reaching the construction peak in four years, a move that could temporarily add nearly 80,000 people to the island by 2014.

“We will do everything that we can, federally and locally, to stop that from happening,” Bordallo said during her address. “We have our foot on the brakes.”


The Good Soldiers

February 12, 2010

The Good Soldiers
The Good Soldiers

Last time I wrote a “real” post here, I talked about things I wanted to read while away on a trip.  I easily managed to read item number one on the list, David Finkel’s outstanding new book, The Good Soldiers.  In that post, I wondered if the book would live up to the comparisons being made about it, for instance, that it was as good as Craig Mullaney’s book.  Short answer: you should read it; it is really good.  I would rank it just as high as Mullaney’s book, although it is somewhat different.  Mullaney tells his story first-person; it’s his life.  His tale is mainly focused on his small unit, a platoon of the 10th Mountain Division.  Finkel goes third person about a particular unit, an Army infantry battalion that deploys to Baghdad as a part of “the surge.”  The main protagonist is the battalion’s commanding officer, and the narrative follows the unit from before it even existed (it was stood up specifically to be a part of the surge) until it returns from its 15 months in Iraq.  Soldiers is a bit depressing, illustrating the grim personal toll in casualties suffered by this American battalion inside the surge and some of the effects on families of the wounded, often horribly so – burns, multiple amputations, and other dismemberment mainly from explosively-formed penetrator (EFP) roadside bombs that cut through even armored Humvees like a knife.  A continuous theme found throughout the book is the disconnect between the strategy set forth by top policy-makers and the reality on the ground, something that may well be a real factor in Afghanistan right now.

Here is what I wrote about the book over at Goodreads:

I didn’t do as well with the other items on my reading list – too busy seeing the many sights and taking a lot of pictures.  Here are some of my favorites:

Starred Photos

What to Read on Taiwanese Politics

February 12, 2010

What to Read on Taiwanese Politics | Foreign Affairs

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