Daylife/AP Photo by Airman 1st Class Courtney Witt
Sprawling toward the horizon in every direction, Andersen Air Force Base is surprisingly quiet, leaving the impression of a big, empty parking lot. For now, anyway.
Over the next six years, nearly 25,000 U.S. marines, soldiers, family members and civilian Defense Department employees are to descend on the tiny Pacific island of Guam, transforming the sleepy tropical outpost into a hub of the U.S. military in the Pacific…
Guam’s transformation will cost at least $15 billion – with Japan footing more than $6 billion of the bill – and put some of the U.S. military’s highest-profile assets within the fences of a vastly improved network of bases.
The newcomers will find an island already peppered with strip malls, fast-food franchises and high-rise hotels serving Japanese tourists who want a closer-to-home version of Hawaii. The plans for the base are fueling a fresh boom in construction and real estate that Guam hopes will accelerate its prosperity.
Here’s local politicians showing how ready they are to profit from this: “The shift of marines may cause problems,” an editor wrote, but “transportation should get better. Our nightclubs should get better. So should our restaurants and movie theaters. It all should trigger an advancement in the social scene on Guam. This is a new era, and we’ve got to move forward.”
The buildup plan, to be carried out by 2014, represents a major realignment of U.S. forces in the Pacific:
Work your way through all the details – then, reflect upon the fact that this is still a leftover from Cold War planning, Cold War logistics, the imperial mindset of Cheney and Bush, the profit schemes of our military-industrial complex.
Consider  not only whether or not this scale serves a useful purpose in the 21st Century; but  play at being a Congressional beancounter for a little while. Sustaining an American soldier stationed abroad is a 6-figure task. Buying all the hardware requested to keep Pentagon Playboys in heat costs trillions of dollars. Think of what we might restore to our national budget if we stopped marching around as the cops of the world?