Recently, the United States Department of Defense has begun to advance its process of Guam’s militarization as a part of the $8 billion plan to move around 5,000 marines from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. This plan began years ago but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a part of the plan to transfer the 5,000 marines to Guam, three barracks facilities, including two projects, are underway construction: the Mason Live Fire Training Range Complex and a multi-purpose machine gun range. The Department of Defense hopes to have the marines start transferring around 2024.
The firing range complex has begun construction near the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer, Guam’s primary source of drinking water. Additionally, the complex is being built over several historical and culturally significant sites, including the remnants of ancient villages several thousands of years old, where some peoples’ ancestors’ remains remain. This firing range will cause the destruction of over 1,000 acres of Guam’s native limestone forest, home to several endangered and endemic species.
Many people in Guam have been protesting this militarization due to its dangerous proximity to the aquifer, cultural ignorance, deforestation, and endangerment of several species. In addition, many of the protestors, who are Indigenous Chamorros, feel as if this militarization is an extension of the colonialism they have been experiencing for the last few hundred years. The protestors have been actively protesting since the plan was proposed in 2009, but all that their protesting has won them was a delay of a few years. A majority of the people of Guam wish to stop this militarization and follow the transfer to save their island and stop further colonization.