Over the next several years, implementation of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy will result in the realignment of U.S. forces and the construction of new facilities costing billions of dollars at installations overseas. The Senate and House reports accompanying the fiscal year 2004 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to monitor DOD’s overseas master plans and to provide congressional defense committees with assessments each year. The Senate report accompanying the fiscal year 2007 military construction appropriation bill directed GAO to review DOD’s master planning effort for Guam as part of these annual reviews. This report, first, examines how the overseas plans have changed and the extent to which they address the challenges faced by DOD and, second, assesses the status of DOD’s planning effort and the challenges associated with the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam.
The fiscal year 2008 overseas master plans, which provide infrastructure requirements at U.S. military facilities in each of the overseas regional commands’ area of responsibility, have been updated to reflect U.S. overseas defense basing strategies and requirements as well as GAO’s prior recommendations for improving the plans. The plans also address DOD’s challenges to a greater extent than they did in previous years. However, two areas continue to be of concern. First, the master plans do not address the issue of residual value–that is, the value of property being turned over to the host nation based on its reuse of property. Although DOD officials believe that residual value cannot be readily predicted and therefore should not be in the master plans, compensation received for U.S capital improvements at installations returned to host nations could affect U.S. funding requirements for overseas construction. Second, the master plan for PACOM, which provides details on the command’s training limitations in Japan and several other challenges, does not provide details regarding training limitations for the Air Force in South Korea, which could cause the United States to pursue alternatives, such as training in other locations, downsizing, or relocating that could affect overseas basing plans. Without addressing the residual value issue and providing details on these training challenges, DOD cannot provide Congress a comprehensive view enabling it to make informed decisions regarding funding. GAO has previously recommended that overseas regional commands address residual value issues and that PACOM explain how it plans to address existing training limitations. Because these recommendations have not been fully addressed, GAO considers them to be open and believes that they still have merit. DOD’s planning effort for the buildup of military forces and infrastructure on Guam is in its initial stages, with many key decisions and challenges yet to be addressed. Among the challenges to be addressed is completing the required environmental impact statement, initiated in March 2007. According to DOD officials, this statement and associated record of decision could take up to 3 years to complete and will affect many of the key decisions on the exact location, size, and makeup of the military infrastructure development–decisions needed to develop a master plan for the military buildup on Guam. DOD and the services are still determining the exact size and makeup of the forces to be moved to Guam, needed in order to identify the housing, operational, quality of life, and services support infrastructure required for the Marine Corps realignment and the other services’ buildup. DOD officials said that additional time is needed to fully address other challenges associated with the Guam military buildup, including funding requirements, operational requirements, and community impact. Until the environmental assessment and initial planning efforts are completed, Congress will need to be kept abreast of developments and challenges affecting infrastructure and funding decisions to make appropriate funding and oversight decisions.
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