A threefold approach is necessary. First, the Pentagon must appoint an independent body to complete the Aircraft Carrier Berthing analysis in the environmental impact study. At all locations, overcoming the elimination criteria at the previously ruled-out sites should be compared with the price of meeting environmental regulations. Then policymakers will have all available options.
Next, innovative cost-sharing models should be explored to fund construction. The Port Authority of Guam’s long-term modernization plan calls for the eventual construction of a new 900-foot pier to support the increasingly large post-Panamax container ships. If a larger dual-use pier were constructed, the Navy could share expenses with the U.S. Transportation Command and Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The Navy strategy only calls for an aircraft carrier to be in port for a maximum of 63 days per year. This means that large commercial vessels could use the facility the other 302 days.
Finally, the Asia-Pacific Oversight Series in the House of Representatives must take ownership of this issue. The continued delay of construction on Guam unnecessarily hamstrings the U.S. defense posture in the Western Pacific. Worse, this delay is occurring precisely at the moment when other Pacific powers are aggressively seeking to alter the region’s status quo.