By Audrey McAvoy – The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Sep 24, 2010 9:58:32 EDT

HONOLULU — The U.S. military gave final approval to the single
biggest part of its planned buildup of forces on Guam: a proposal to
move 8,000 Marines and their dependents from Okinawa, Japan, to the U.S.
territory in the Pacific.

But it has postponed two key decisions related to the buildup. The news was posted online Tuesday.

Navy put off deciding where to build a live fire range for the Marines
while it consults with preservation authorities on how the training area
would affect the ancient village of Pagat. Stone bowls, fishing gear,
spear points and other artifacts dating back more than a millennium have
been found at the village, which is listed on the National Register of
Historic Places.

The military acknowledged in a document called a
"Record of Decision" that a significant new influx of population would
affect the island's indigenous Chamorro population and vowed to be
sensitive to this issue.

At its peak, the buildup is expected to
boost Guam's population by 79,000 people, or 45 percent, over its
current 180,000 residents.

The Department of Defense "is cognizant
of the concerns regarding the degradation of Chamorro culture and
respects Chamorro social and cultural traditions and will continue to
strive to be good neighbors," the document said.

The Navy also
delayed deciding where in Apra Harbor it will place a new aircraft
carrier berth so it can study how construction of the dock would affect
the harbor's coral reef.

The Environmental Protection Agency in
February said the military, in a draft environmental impact statement,
had underestimated the effect the berth would have on corals that
provide essential habitats for fish and endangered sea turtles.

EPA told the Navy this month it would need to study the coral matter
further before it selected a site within Apra for the carrier.

Navy wants the new berth to accommodate the military's strategy of
having its aircraft carriers spend more time in the western Pacific.

Guam is about 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii and 1,500 miles south of Tokyo.


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