- Written by Clynt Ridgell
Benitez says that they then tracked down some of the highest profile security experts for the region to bring to the conference so that they could see Guam firsthand for themselves. While Guam is being touted as strategically important, Benitez says most national security experts agree that the bases in other areas of Asia like Okinawa and Korea provide greater reach than Guam does. However, Benitez says Guam is advantageous for two reasons. First it is sovereign U.S. soil which means that the U.S. would not need to seek permission from any foreign government if an attack was launched from Guam. The second is that all fuel that is imported into Asia passes through Guam's military sphere of influence. "All fuel routes to Asia and China imports 85 percent of it's fuel...would pass through our circle so we basically could eliminate any fuel supply into Asian countries just because that's how the fuel lines run,” said Benitez.
While the Record of Decision for the Guam marine relocation is not due until 2015, Benitez pointed out to Rotarians that there are actually five other environmental impact statements for things like the use of other islands in Micronesia as well as the Northern Mariana islands of Tinian and Pagan. "A lot of people are wondering why is Pagan is so indispensable for this buildup as we move forward it is a key lynchpin to this entire buildup because you need to train your troops and live fire training and combined live fire training is almost not available anywhere else in the United States anymore and what we mean by combined live fire ranges is you get your troops to land on shore you get your pilots to be carrying live ammunition you get your ships to be bombing from ships using their bigger cannons. So that pilot is feeling for the first time the earth fall hitting his plate from underneath when he has a live bomb under there it's not a dud, its not practicing, its not a computer game,” said Benitez. The former D.C. lobbyist says that Pagan is the only island in the Marianas that the military can use for amphibious landings because it is the only one without a reef.