There is an old saying about how to assess the value of real estate: "Location, Location, Location," and this adage works well to describe the value of the partnership between the island of Guam and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Pacific facility located there.
The island is small, about 208 square miles with approximately 171,000 inhabitants (compared to 600 square miles and 875,000 inhabitants on the Hawaiian island of Oahu).
The SSC Pacific facility is similarly small, with a workforce of about 40 compared to the center's total workforce of around 4,000, with most working in San Diego, Calif. Nevertheless, over the next six to eight years, both the island of Guam and the center's far western Pacific facility are poised to make a big impact on a major shift of Defense Department resources.
"Guam is the westernmost sovereign U.S. territory," said SSC Pacific engineer Adrian Gogue. "As such, it represents a unique resource for staging U.S. military forces; no foreign ally, experiencing a change of heart, can take away air fields, or ports, or links in the supply chain required to project American presence to the Far East and the Middle East."
The joint decision by the United States and Japan in October 2005 to move 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa and relocate them to Guam, about 1,800 miles to the southeast, placed the tiny island in the spotlight.
Guam is an integral part of DoD's logistical support system and serves as an important forward operational hub for a mix of military mission requirements, according to an April 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which reported to the Congress on the island's military buildup and its potential challenges.
According to DoD, "Guam provides strategic flexibility, freedom of action, and prompt global action for the global war on terrorism, peace and wartime engagement and crisis response."
Guam also provides solid ground on which to build, which is DoD's plan for the island between now and about 2014. During that timeframe, plans are being developed to establish a $13 billion infrastructure needed to support thousands of U.S. service personnel who will be living on the island.
It is a daunting plan based on figures provided by Adrian Gogue.
"In addition to the 8,000 personnel of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, there will be 2,000 more Marines assigned to transient units on the island," Gogue said. "The Navy will bring in high speed vessels, littoral combat ships and 1,650 more personnel. New carrier berthing will be added to the naval base in Apra Harbor."
The Air Force will transfer one or two Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle squadrons and more than 2,500 personnel. The Army will bring in 630 personnel to staff an air defense battery.
The nearly 14,000 military members moving to the island will be accompanied by more than 11,000 family members, according to Gogue, who agreed with the GAO's conclusion that the massive influx of personnel and family members offered some substantial challenges.
For example, GAO cited lack of local construction capacity and commercial development required to build offices, training facilities and residential units. Highways and roads for transporting supplies and for travel to work, schools, shopping and recreation are inadequate with the anticipated population growth. Utilities — the electric grid, water and solid-waste facilities — may not be able to handle the expected 25 percent increase in demand.
But the Department of the Interior's Interagency Group on Insular Areas and DoD's Joint Guam Program Office, and a Navy field office, directed to facilitate, manage and execute requirements associated with rebasing Marine Corps assets from Okinawa to Guam, are working aggressively to address the potential resource shortfall.
Public infrastructure is not the only requirement for the Guam buildup. The move of thousands of active-duty personnel will require barracks, training ranges, pier facilities and hangars. Most critically, the troops will require communication channels including landlines, cell phone towers, e-mail and data networks.
It is in several of these areas that SSC Pacific personnel, already working on the island, and those anticipated to be recruited over the next several years, will be most essential. Work has already begun for the Guam Joint Military Master Plan (GJMMP). In mid 2008, SSC Pacific personnel conducted a six-month preliminary study of the III MEF's information systems, and in October, they revisited Okinawa to determine the electronic and network resources that must be replicated or modernized as the force moves to Guam.
An electromagnetic interference survey of Guam followed in December 2008 which led to the ongoing site survey of proposed Marine Corps training ranges planned for several islands to the north of Guam in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
As a result of the studies and subsequent analysis, the SSC Pacific Guam team has identified the requirements for a robust synchronous optical network (SONET) expanded backbone which will require redundancy and bandwidth upgrades to the current Guam backbone; 8,000 network connections (6,000 garrison and 2,000 tactical); and four "battle cabin" command and control centers, one for each Marine general officer of the III MEF.
Additional requirements determined by the study include upgrades to the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS); 100 data connections; two Marine Air-Ground Task Force Network Operations Centers; tactical support centers; and training centers.
The team has a C4ISR planning study in progress providing information for military construction (MILCON) documentation and for analyzing electromagnetic radiation for the Guam Build-up Environmental Impact Statement and GJMMP development on both existing and proposed communication systems. Deliverables include creating a preliminary cable distribution system to support information technology service and conducting Hazardous Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO), Facility (HERF) and Personnel (HERP) testing on the planned radio frequency footprint.
The proposed evolution of the Guam network infrastructure, intended to provide common mission and business applications for users, involves progressing from stand-alone networks for each of the four services and the joint command environment to connecting the four service networks to a joint backbone (Phase 1) and then integrating the networks while maintaining their individual integrity (Phase 2).
One of the major efforts required for the successful move of the Marines is their transition from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) to the U.S. OCONUS Navy enterprise network called ONE-NET.
ONE-NET provides centralized control authority for Navy and Marine shore installation users from Europe to the Far East. The Marines coming from Okinawa will transition to ONE-NET, and then later to its planned successor, the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN).
The SSC Pacific Guam facility is responsible for the Marines' transition to ONE-NET and subsequently to NGEN. As information technology advances to an approved Joint Information Environment-Marianas (JIE-M) infrastructure under the Global Information Grid (GIG) 2.0 construct, the long-term end state for all the services in Guam will be a fully implemented Joint Base Network.
Guam facility engineer Regie Pablo spent five months last year upgrading 57 buildings across the island to ONENET standards, pulling new cable and installing equipment racks. SSC Pacific's Guam personnel handled infrastructure design and installation. Pablo will eventually take the IT portions of all the installation design plans and further develop them in sufficient detail so that they can be provided to a contractor for the IT installations.
Judy Flores is an IT specialist and program manager working on ONE-NET infrastructure upgrades for other command-funded projects. She is responsible for the ONE-NET installation of the NIPRNET and SIPRNET Protected Distribution System, the physical environment for security. She researches and documents requirements and then helps other commands meet them by coordinating with the local Naval Facilities Engineering Command office, providing site surveys for customers and then planning the installations with contractor support.
There are many other SSC Pacific team members who are working on the Guam buildup efforts. They include: Michael Castro, heading the region's Enhanced Land Mobile Network; Jeffrey LeCureux, heading the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Smartgate installations for the region; Klyte Mills, working on the Joint Region Marianas Headquarters C4ISR effort; and Mathew Paco, engaged in creating the initial Marine Corps C4ISR capabilities footprint in the newly renovated Marine Forces Pacific Forward Guam Office.
Frank Salas and Bert Salonga, branch heads in the SSC Pacific Guam facility, are also both leading efforts to increase SPAWAR's presence in C4ISR planning in the Commander, Submarine Squadron 15 headquarters, the new naval hospital, and other long-term planning efforts with the Joint Region Marianas chief information officer staff.
Bill Naputi, managing director of the Guam facility, discussed the changes as the facility works to meet its assigned responsibilities for the buildup, as well as traditional tasking.
"We have grown in the recent past from 22 personnel to 38, with more to come. Our workload, represented by funding, has grown from $3 million to $20 million. We anticipate a large amount of additional work in the 2010-2014 timeframe.
"We do want to avoid growing too large to sustain the civil service population after the buildup winds down, so we will rely substantially on contractors after we grow our in-house workforce to the appropriate level.
"The submarine force will be growing over the next few years, with Ohio and Virginia-class boats coming. We will build up to support them, but cross-train our people because the workload is not always sustainable for the submarine work," Naputi said.
Capt. Miguel San Pedro, Officer in Charge of SSC Pacific's Pacific C4ISR department based in Hawaii, added his thoughts.
"The Guam military buildup is a unique opportunity to provide proven C4ISR capabilities to the joint warfighter in the Asian-Pacific theater. To succeed in this role, however, will require that SSC Pacific has the personnel resources in place to meet the challenge. We already have a talented team in Guam to support the technical network requirements of the buildup. What we lack are the numbers to complete the tasking before us."
George McCarty, a department manager in Hawaii and former head of the submarine communications division at SSC Pacific headquarters in San Diego, is spearheading the recruiting effort.
"Realizing the engineers we have in Guam are working overtime to meet the increased demand, we're actively soliciting SSC Pacific and SSC Atlantic personnel to work with them," he said. "Now is a good time to make the transition, since the major military moves have not yet started and there are still reasonable accommodations available on the island."
McCarty said the tour requirement is two years, but hopes those interested will stay three or four years to take time to get settled and up-to-speed before the crunch occurs, thus enabling substantial contributions to the buildup effort.
"We theoretically will need 75 government personnel there in three years," he said. "Our primary shortages, and so our prime recruitments, are for engineers, but we are also considering technicians. Although the focus is preparation for the buildup, we are supporting other requirements. Due to Guam's unique position as a gateway to Asia, there are many opportunities in the region for our workforce, such as tasks in Singapore, Diego Garcia, Okinawa and other Asian settings populated with joint/naval activities."
The significance of the Guam buildup was highlighted during a visit April 28 by then-Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable BJ Penn at the Guam Industry Forum. The forum provided private industry representatives an opportunity to understand the requirements for the buildup so they can better support it. In his opening remarks for the forum, Mr. Penn emphatically made the case for the strategic importance of Guam and the military requirements there.
"Indeed, it's not just a matter of national security — the stability of the entire Pacific region depends upon this successful mission," Penn said. "Let me repeat that — it's not just a matter of national security — the stability of the entire Pacific region depends upon this successful mission."
So, for the several dozen SSC Pacific personnel in Guam, and for this small island in the vastness of the western Pacific Ocean, there are large challenges and larger opportunities looming on the horizon.
Go to the SPAWAR Web site for more information: http://www.spawar.navy.mil/.
Tom LaPuzza is with the SSC Pacific public affairs office.