Guam governor blindsided by congressman’s military funding move

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s understanding and expectation of federal funding for a massive military program called Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) is consistent with the military’s request for where the funding will be spent: in the Indo-Pacific region. She also was blindsided by a move Guam Congressman James Moylan made that will open the door to that funding being spent in the southeastern United States.

“The governor was not aware of the addition of Section 366 to the 2024 House version of the NDAA prior to its final passage in the House,” governor’s director of communications Krystal Paco-San Agustin said. “The governor was not informed by the congressman on any details related to this section or any proposed funding.”

The U.S. military plans to spend $34 billion between next fiscal year and Fiscal Year 2028 on the PDI, which is a massive defense program to project American force against Chinese aggression. According to the Defense Department, nearly all of that money would be spent on new programs, facilities, and force movements in the Indo-Pacific region west of the International Date Line.
The President submitted a $9.1 billion budget request for the first year of that five-year funding program in March. The request is set to be authorized in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the U.S.  House of Representatives July 14, and awaits passage in the Senate.
An amendment (Section 366) by Alabama’s Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, would expand the area of application of the PDI beyond the geopolitical borders of the Indo-Pacific west of the IDL and carry it into southeastern states. Several southeastern states are heavily reliant on the military spending.
Jim Moylan

Mr. Moylan has said he not only supported the amendment, he gave Guam’s stamp of approval to it.

The spokesperson for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command – the military’s oldest and largest combative command – reiterated the military’s stance that the money it has requested for PDI should be spent in places where they originally planned to spend, the Indo-Pacific.
“The targeted investments DoD underlined in PDI are U.S. force posture, infrastructure, presence, and readiness in the Indo-Pacific region west of the International Date Line (IDL),” the spokesperson is quoted as saying in a written statement answering Kandit’s questions. The statement was relayed in an email by Kirah Wurst with INDOPACOM’s Media & Current Operations office. “Some of the investments are for development and integration of a Joint Missile Defense System for the defense of Guam, infrastructure investments in the Pacific, and regional exercises.”
“The Governor’s Defense Policy team continues to monitor the NDAA FY 2024 related to Guam and the Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” Ms. Paco-San Agustin continued. “The Governor understands that the PDI is focused on the Indo Pacific Region, however, budget allocations expand to other DOD entities such as the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the US Cyber Command, US Special Operations Command, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Missile Defense Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, the Joint Staff, all in support of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and INDOPACIFIC Command.”

Lt. Governor Joshua Tenorio, who has significant experience working in Congress, also said Mr. Moylan never mentioned his support for the controversial inclusion into military funding legislation that may take money away from Guam, the CNMI, and this region.

Joshua Tenorio

“Your story, which I read just now,” the lieutenant governor wrote in a response to Kandit last week, “is my first source for information about the amendment opening the door for [Pacific Deterrence Initiative] funds to be spent elsewhere than the Indo-Pacific [region].  I wasn’t aware of this effort until I received your request for comment. Congressman Moylan didn’t ask me for any input nor have I spoken with him or his office about the issue. We don’t have regular engagement yet.”

“If I were sitting in Congress, I would be very careful about supporting amendments that are not recommended by the military commanders and war fighters,” Mr. Tenorio warned. “There are always efforts to try and get more resources and projects in districts by members of the House Armed Services Committee – and of course – that is a legitimate part of the legislative process. The key is determining whether this effort is going to advance the security of our island during this very serious time. We are reliant on the Congressman’s judgment since he is privileged to more information as a member of the HASC than any of us are.”
Mr. Moylan’s communications director, Hannah D’Avonzo, however, has said her office will not be responding to any more questions about the issue, despite the implications of her boss’s actions. Those implications, Kandit will report in future stories, reach beyond Guam and into the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the greater Micronesia region, and to the nation’s surrounding allies.

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