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Will US Military's 'Pivot' Bring Vieques Redux to Pacific?

Proposals to use entire island of Pagan for air, land and water weapons trainings could bring 'irreparable harm'

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

As the U.S. military continues “forging a broad-based military presence” in the Pacific, proposals to use an entire island and surrounding waters to practice mine warfare, dropping bombs and amphibious strikes have set off fierce opposition.

Located in the Northern Marianas Islands a few hundred miles from Guam, where military activities are "already being used to capacity," the Pacific island of Pagan may be taken over by live training exercises that could cause "irreparable harm" to the environment.

Marianas Variety reports:

OVER what they consider potential irreparable harm to the environment and the people, the indigenous people of the islands through the Northern Marianas Descent Corporation passed a resolution opposing the U.S. military proposal to develop live-fire ranges and training areas on Pagan island.

The resolution, signed by NMD Corp. officers — Ana S. Teregeyo, president; Karl T. Reyes, vice president; Daniel O. Quitugua, secretary; and Rose Taman Ada-Hocog, treasurer —on May 10, “unequivocally oppose[s] and unanimously disapprove[s] the proposed U.S. military development and tactical exercise activities on our culturally, historically, and environmentally rich, serene and irreplaceable homeland island of Pagan unlike any other on earth.”

NMD Corp. says the most alarming statement regarding Pagan is the US military’s intention to use the entire island for joint training activities, using a broad spectrum of weaponry.

What it would entail:

The proposed military training on the volcanic island would include air warfare, amphibious warfare, surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare. mine warfare, strike warfare, electronic combat and naval special warfare.

The opposing voices are also concerned over secrecy the military has shown with the weapons it tests. The Saipan Tribune reported that the NMD Corporation said that historically,

the U.S. military is best known for covert operations, keeping secret anything they used or plan to use that may be harmful to the area, affecting and displacing people, animals, plants, wildlife, marine life, water, air and sea, permanently damaging and/or destroying the overall human habitat, landscape, flora, fauna, land and marine environment.

Just look to the Puerto Rico's Vieques or training areas in Hawaii to see the toxic, dangerous legacy U.S. military training can leave, the opponents say.

The Associated Press adds that while the island is sparsely populated, previous residents who were evacuated due to an earthquake in 1981 worry the U.S. military takeover could prevent their resettlement.


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