Leaders from Kwajalein Atoll launched efforts last week to gain funding support for new developments at Kwajalein from the US government by visiting top US military representatives and key administration officials in Washington, DC last week.
The Kwajalein team presented the new Kwajalein Atoll Master Plan and an Infrastructure Development and Maintenance Plan — both detailed plans developed by the engineering firm Beca in conjunction with the RMI’s Project Management Unit for the Kwajalein Atoll Development Authority.
The plans were well received by US officials, according to Minister and Kwajalein Senator David Paul who was part of the delegation. “They were impressed with the plan, and that we invoked the provision of the US law that authorizes the US President to make loans and grants to Kwajalein,” he said.
“We’re asking for a 10-year investment of funding,” Paul said, adding that support of the Kwajalein Atoll Master Plan “is an indirect investment in support of the Army’s operations at Kwajalein and Roi-Namur by putting funding into improving human resources on Kwajalein.”
The group met with Lt. General Quinn Becker, commander of the Army’s Installation Management Command in San Antonio, Texas, Lt. General James Dickinsen, commander of the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, and US Department of Interior and Congressional officials in Washington.
Paul was accompanied by Kwajalein Mayor Hirata Kabua, RMI Representative to US Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Lanny Kabua, and KADA board members Odrikawa Jatios and Felix Loeak. They were joined by Foreign Minister John Silk and RMI Ambassador to the US Gerald Zackios in the meetings. USAG-KA Commander Colonel James DeOre and USAG-KA Host Nation Director Major Dan Lacaria joined in the visit to SMDC.
The Kwajalein Atoll Master Plan focuses on Ebeye, Gugeegue, Bigege, Ennebouj (Carlson) and Enelabgan (Carlos) in the southern portion of the atoll, and Ebadon and Enubirr (Third Island) in the north.
The pitch from the Kwajalein delegation to US officials is for $131 million in funding to support the 10-year investment in development of the atoll. “The plan helps both the Marshall Islands and the United States,” said Paul.
The Kwajalein group justified the request for new funding based on US Public Law 108-88, Section (l) (5) authorizes the US President “to make loans and grants to the Government of the Marshall Islands to address the special needs of the community at Ebeye, Kwajalein Atoll, and other Marshallese communities within the Kwajalein Atoll.”
They made the point that the funding for Kwajalein in the Compact of Free Association — through the Kwajalein Development Fund and Ebeye Special Needs grants — are almost entirely used for recurrent costs such as salaries for health and education workers or for fuel purchases for the Ebeye power plant.
Read more about this in the April 19, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.