‘CNMI will benefit from military trainings here’

The U.S. Department of Defense’s planned military buildup in the region has put the CNMI community in a quandary, with some supporting military activities on Tinian and Pagan and some opposing it.

One of the islands’ most respected citizens and business leaders, David “Uncle Dave” M. Sablan, has thrown his full support behind the plan and is asking the CNMI’s leaders and community to follow suit.

Everybody already knows about Sablan’s ordeal during World War II and how he survived the war as a 12-year-old boy living in a cave in Marpi.

Despite having a front-row seat on the chaos and destruction the Pacific war brought to the islands, Sablan is encouraging the CNMI and its leaders to give as much as possible a favorable consideration to the military’s request to use Tinian and Pagan for live-fire training.

“The military is not doing anything that would jeopardize the livelihood of the people here in the CNMI. I think it is very important that we do the best we can to accommodate the military’s needs, because they have a mission to fulfill and that mission is to defend the U.S and its territories and we are a part of that,” he said.

“I strongly urge that the leaders of the CNMI to give it a very serious consideration…because it has taken them roughly four to five years to reach their final decision on what they want to do from the standpoint of training for their own people that are capable of maintaining a high standard of military posture, not only the U.S but also because we are on the ‘firing range’ here,” he added.

What he means is that the CNMI is near Southeast Asia and the CNMI is in the Pacific Ocean, inevitably in the crosshairs of America’s enemies if war breaks out.

“All the sovereign nations are roughly in these areas such as China and North Korea. These people look at the CNMI as a very, very small minute area that they, in my own opinion, will not hesitate to do the wrong ‘test’ on and it is dangerous,” said Sablan.

He said he is not trying to scare the community but is merely being practical, the CNMI being a U.S territory and could be a possible target if any war were to break out.

“I am just giving my feeling because I don’t want to see our people suffer through another war. I think these people are being very reasonable, saying ‘Let us train our people here locally’ because this is a territory of the U.S and the training that we accommodate for the military to do here is going to be very beneficial to us because our own people are members of the military,” he said.

“We need them to train, so if there was ever a war and our own people who are members of the military go out there and fight, they need to come back alive and not in a casket. This is my biggest concern.”

Sablan conceded there are certain things the military is not able to share with the CNMI at this point.

“They happen to know the danger that we face here in the CNMI as well as Guam. They are basically training to prevent those from happening. How many times do we see on media North Korea threatening to shoot a missile? We’re very vulnerable,” he said.

“That is why I am in full support of the military to train here so that when the need for defending the CNMI comes, the military is well-suited and fits perfectly for that matter. That is part of the sacrifices that we in the CNMI should seriously consider.”

Sablan recalled that when he was 12 years old in the morning of June 10, 1944, he and his older brother were getting ready to go visit their Japanese military friends. They saw planes in the skies involved in an aerial fight; bombs were exploding all over Saipan and planes crashing.

“I have been through WWII and have seen and lived through it. The military has knowledge of what they’re doing so we should be supportive of that.”

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Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at jayson_camacho@saipantribune.com.

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  • pattepareihu

    So you are saying that military presence on Pagan and Tinian will deter china and n.korea from nuking us if they choose to do so? If we are to be the first lines of defense, wouldn’t we be the first ones destroyed?

  • RussMason

    This is a series of bad ideas. What makes Uncle Dave think that there would be a ground war in the Marianas, so that live fire training would ever be necessary? This is not WWII any more; this is the age of nuclear subs with atomic weapons. There is no easy defense against that kind of attack. Also, the US military is expert at rapid deployment, so if – in the unlikely event of a ground invasion – troops could be here quickly.

    I admire the US military and what they have done, but I would prefer that they be elsewhere.

  • CNMI Lawyer

    What about Iwo Jima?

    Was that even considered?

    Tinian is a great place for a divert airfield.

    • RCGuam

      Iwo Jima is not US soil. I am pretty sure it wasn’t considered at all.

      • Skywalker

        The CNMI is not US soil either. Guam, however, is. That would be the perfect place to have these live fire training bases and since you are so proud of the money Uncle spends there already, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a bit more. Guam it is, then.

        • RCGuam

          Read Section 806c of the Covenant. The US can and will take whatever it deems necessary.

          • Skywalker

            Rape is always a possibility when one party has a gun and the other doesn’t. They might have a surprise coming, however.

    • Juanita Mendiola

      No. Tinian is not a great place for a divert airfield. That is an invitation for more actions. But, if they do insist then we must insist on conditions and impose protective measures for all concerns.

  • jun

    uNcLe dAve,

    Fresno Veteran’s Hospital refused to attend to my wife’s broken foot and issue pain killer, because they do not accept VA medical privileges for my dependents. Wait a minuuuuute, you serve your so call country and asswipe like the Fresno Veterans Hospital refused to take care of their own. Uncle Dave, you don’t have a clue on issues affecting our people in the CNMI. Screw the military on our islands, because they only think of themselves and our lives have no meaning to them.

    Jayson Camacho, you need to get your facts together.

  • Sam W.

    I think majority of David Sablan’s military support comes from his business mindset. Sorry to disappoint you Dave but the military buildup here will be nothing like Guam. In the CNMI, they’ll drop a few bombs and after just dust off their hands as they walk away from us. In Guam, they have more incentives to stay and contribute to its economy but here….not so much. The US military today is not all its been cooked up to be. They don’t care about us! They think were too stup*d to see that they’re just using our islands for their gun sports!

    If someone came into your own house and completely vandalized the place, you would get freak-en pissed off wouldn’t you? Why would you let the US military come in and destroy Pagan and Tinian?
    How can you continue to respect someone who does not respect you and your own country?!

    • RCGuam

      The DoD will contribute to the local CNMI economy. Not on purpose but just because it is so big that there will be some big bucks spent locally. Directly by the DoD buying supplies, services etc and indirectly through military members living on the local economy. Don’t forget there will be local and off-island contractors benefitting as well. Someone has to build, maintain and man the facilities that will be constructed.
      As for your question on “how can you respect someone who does not respect you and your own country?”, the CNMI is not its own country. It is part of the United States. A Commonwealth.

      • jun

        Buenas RCGuam,

        “The DoD will contribute to the local CNMI economy.”

        In what ways that the DoD would contribute to our economy? If we can remember right, the last municipal administration (military affairs) was being afforded the contracts during the military exercises in Tinian. This time around, there are two people who handle such billet and one thousand percent future contracts from the military exercises in Tinian would end in their pockets. Who would end up supplying the DoD in Tinian again? Off course, you know who, the individuals who handle military affairs within the Tinian and Aguiguan Municipality.

        We don’t want to be sarcastic on the subject matter, but at times we need to face reality. We are for military build up in the CNMI and military contracts need to be announce to the public. Stop the in house, conflict of interest way of doing things with your so call U. S. Department of Defense.

        One thing we can agree with you, we all carry the blue U.S. Passport and many had died defending it.

      • freethemarianas

        Until there is a designation like the “Native Americans, Native Alaskans, etc, there is no real guarantee that these big companies will partner or partake in making us partners in developing and operating these features. Where on Guam is a “Native Chamorro” designation that guarantees teaming with Corporate America? There are only big firms that give the less glamorous positions to locals while an expat revels in all the “out of state” salary he/she is paid….and a local can qualify as well. Look at the “Possibilites” none are because they have a solid designation other than veteran owned and women owned…The Chugachs and Aluutiqs have managed to suck up the maintenance contracts…by the way, they qualified under “Native American”….the only endangered species will be the Chamorro. CNMI may not be a country, but it is the last bastion of what the Marianas should be as opposed to Guam’s ever loving attitude of loving the military.

        Before a response is crafted, think about how the military can give back the 5000plus acres it took from my family to make it Andersen Air Force Base. Then maybe, I’ll feel like a team player and embrace these modern day Romans.

        • jun

          Buenas freethemarianas,

          You forgot to mention that disabled veterans are also afforded privileges when it comes to contracts within the U.S. military. And we earned such privileges for our sacrificed we had done for our country.

          • freethemarianas

            yes, I did not leave that out purposely. It is truly a segment of the designations I mentioned. I was simply trying to illustrate the concept of not having the same distinctions as other designations, when along with “Veteran Owned” there are others just as notable. Thanks

  • 670huntress

    The military’s sonar is a danger to the dolphins, whales and mermaids.

  • Surfrider

    Indigenous peoples have long resisted advocating for their own interests. But coalition-builiding must now become a moral imperative in light of pending ecocide. The military and cohorts deny that environmental destruction exist and public uproar is misguided. It says evidence of any such contamination is an aberration or non-existent. Research has shown to the contrary when presented through the lens of an INDEPENDENT review–coupled with pressures from the international communities–can have a considerable influence and could play a very important role in this discussion. Far from being dysfunctional, nihilistic and rudderless without the security and rectitude of our community, culture/tradition, and authentic information–one not offered in apocryphal/spurious statements–provide a sound and solid foundation for the island community. Family life must be replete with its own sustaining moral values and enriching ethical precepts. Chief among those: rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, and, far above all, a spirit of questioning everything. It’s about changing hearts and changing minds of the military. It’s about us realizing that they are somebody we don’t need to fear. We must be against a rush to blind decisions and insist that the lessons of the Bikini Atolls, Enewetak, Vieques, Amchitka, Makua Valley, Kaho’olawe, Johnston Atoll, and numerous others, be heeded. Our alliance with America is incredibly important to us, but we must always remember that our values must shape the alliances that we form and any military decision that we take.

  • Chamole

    The military wants to turn our islands into bombing ranges and you think that is good for us? Ours is a tourism based economy and you think destroying, damaging, contaminating our beautiful islands is going to benefit the CNMI?

    Do you have a car that you need to go to work? What if somebody came along and started hitting it with a sledge hammer? Does that benefit you too?

  • potatoe

    I’m all for it, with some negotiation up front to make sure we receive the best option. Why? Because of the economic benefits. We were so quick to bend over and spread both cheeks for the garment industry, which was as corrupt and polluting as anything I have ever seen, and now for Best Sunshine and Casinos. You can say what you want about the military of the past, and the damages and contamination they have caused here and elsewhere, but today’s military is very different, because the laws have changed. I know from years of experience, which most of the activists do NOT have, that the military does a far better job of honoring its agreements than any private business or (especially) the Commonwealth government. If they say they are going to follow a particular mitigation plan, they do. And if they don’t, the persons responsible are held accountable. That is the exact opposite of what I saw during the garment days here, and what I expect to see during the BS era.

    You travel to Guam these days and you see a much different and more prosperous place than the CNMI. There are a few reasons for that, and the military presence is one of them. (fee simple land ownership is another).

    • Juanita Mendiola

      Perhaps you need to read up on Homefront (Lutz). You will not believe how wrong you are!

    • Margaery

      Yes, and you can travel to Tinian and see how peaceful and relaxing it is. Military presence (live artillery range practices 20-46 weeks out of the year) will destroy the tranquility of Tinian, disrupt classroom practices, raise up costs for food, and increase times for medical evacuations in times of medical emergencies. Tinian may not be economically booming as Guam, but you cannot deny that the lifestyle and livelihood on Tinian is rooted in a less fast-paced lifestyle.

  • Juanita Mendiola

    Excerpts from Homefront, (Lutz) as presented by Dr. Natividat:

    -The presence of military results in lower wages due to high competition for jobs with retirees and dependents.
    -Loss of tax dollars due to federal exemptions on land and consumer goods.
    -Soldiers and their families use public resources without supporting tax base, especially young families competiting for WIC, Food & Nutrition Assistance (SNA)P), etc.
    -Their presence only benefits businesses providing service and goods not found in their compound.
    -The study in Lafayettevilled, NC shows that it is one of the highest in infant poverty and mortality in the states.

    These are but a few.

  • freethemarianas

    Uncle Dave, there can be a better approach than to grab our ankles. We need to ensure it’s a mutual benefit for the CNMI. Having them here to spend money means we have somewhat conceded to their desire to colonize the Marianas. They will only destroy or take ownership of the best parts of the CNMI…

    On another note, more careful study needs to be done before bombing this and that will make us a sharper tip of the spear. We cannot let the military destroy our islands for concessions.

  • jun

    We agree with you, a person doing the research needs to be neutral on the studies she/he is performing.

    Hopefully what you describe above relating to government contracts would be announce to the public, so each and everyone can have the opportunity to partake with the process.

    We had invested heavily on real estate on Tinian for the last several decades, so we can have the opportunity to do contracts with the DoD in the CNMI in the future. And the corruption and conflict of interest has to stop when it comes to awarding contracts relating to the military in Tinian.

  • jun

    And who is the oppressor? Are you referring to the Feds?

    • Margaery

      The oppressor is whomever you see fit.

  • Juanita Mendiola

    Support all these with solid date and I will take your world for it. Otherwise, everything you said in your comment are suppostitions at best. I beg to differ that she did not address all the benefits. What her book generally says is that on its face it appears to be beneficial, but dug deeper you see the discrepencies.

  • potatoe

    So FDM is eroding away. So is Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, and probably much worse so. It’s a bombing range. Did you expect anything different? Where’s the outrage for the sediment plumes I see when I drive down Beach Road during any given rain storm? Where’s the outrage over the red flags from the Managaha tour operator, or from the pig farms in Tanapag?

    Speaking more generally, in response to both yorus and other’s comments below, I base my observations on personal experience. One only has to travel to Guam to see the difference in propserity. Complaints that the good jobs go to outsiders speaks to a common problem that our society needs to address on its own: skills and experience. You don’t gain those by staying at home, fighting for legalized pot, going to UOG for an activist degree, or complaining that you aren’t being given preference because of your race. There are many of us, myself included, who have gone out, gotten a relevant education, and performed, just like those “outsiders” who get the jobs, and guess what, we get the jobs, too, perhaps even with an unspoken bias in our favor because most employers in the NMI and Guam would rather hire someone they know will stick around. And I can also tell you, from personal experience, the military hires literally hundreds of civilian workers and contractors to carry out the mitigation measures it commits itself to, and when these workers call out violations, there are consequences, often severe, for the servicemembers or non-servicemembers that are responsible. I can tell you also from experience, that that is absolutely not the case with the vast majority of private businesses in the CNMI, including our current resort hotels, tour operators, and I am sure our future mega-casino operators. When they do something wrong, 9 times out of 10 they are not called out for it, and in the rare instance they are, they run to their favorite legislator or governor to rescue them, who then punish the government employee who had the audacity to attempt to enforce the law. So, yeah, I think the military would make a far better neighbor and economic contributor than just about anyone else we have bent over for, I mean, welcomed to our shores.

    • Juanita Mendiola

      CNMI may have a lot of problems that need serious attention, but they are remotely outragous than the outright plans to destroy the islands. Even if you say that there is economic benefit, are those benefits enough to give into such destructive plans? Are they worth losing everything you hold dear and valuable? Will you be able to enjoy your economy with such an environment? You are still seeing the forest and not the trees and grounds underneath. In some cases that may be a good thing, but in this case you need to penetrate the thick canopy to clearly see the infestations as a result of the military’s activities. Subic Bay is now better off economically than when the military was there. Okinawa is now experiencing an increase in economic activity with the pending withdrawal of the US military. Again, your personal experience do not speak for the mass. You are isolating the few on the top echelon of the community who have indeed benefited from contracts with the military, but take a look at the percentage of Guamanians who are employed by DoD. Most of them earning the high paying jobs are veterans and their families. Again, without data to support your personal experience. It is just your word without credibility.,

  • jun

    Buenas RCGuam,

    You may communicate with our associates and they can do all the requirements for a fee. Our network would or may or can provide you with man power if needed anywhere in the world and they all have clearance or been cleared by the DoD or feds.

    Also, we know of entities that would loan you money on your existing contracts with the feds (usually up to 85% of your awarded contract).

    Hopefully we would meet one day in Tinian.

    Si Yu’us Ma’ase

  • freethemarianas

    My family was not compensated….it was taken b y Eminent Domain. Eminent Domain is a modern day political suicide. So your “multiplier” is not in effect. I’m not resentful, I come from a lineage of business minded families.

    Please don’t assume I resemble being resentful. The only thing I truly resent is inaccurate information, and the fact that we still have 780 acres to our family estate, not including the rest of my Artero Family and pay an artificial high amount of property tax due to our “Hotel Zoned” estate that is still without running water and power. That leave a ketone note in any humans breath.

    See, we also didn’t have a choice as well back then because Uncle Sam threatened to deport my great parents as they were Spanish Nationals, from Mojacar and little town in Adulucia, Spain…a crude way to change someone mind about giving their property without due process and in the mindset of “National Defense”. Long before world war 2 came about circa 1899, my family was noted to great things for the island because we had the means from large cattle farms and copra plantations. After the land was taken away, my grand parents never had a chance to step foot in the property..they died long before they gave us ID Cards and conditional access until public access in 1992.

    Enough of me….Im getting back to my drink on my boat and gonna enjoy whats left of beautiful Saipan.

  • freethemarianas

    My family was not compensated….it was taken by Eminent Domain. Eminent Domain is a modern day political suicide. So your “multiplier” is not in effect. I’m not resentful, I come from a lineage of business minded families.

    Please don’t assume I resemble being resentful. The only thing I truly resent is inaccurate information, and the fact that we still have 780 acres to our family estate, not including the rest of my Artero Family and pay an artificial high amount of property tax due to our “Hotel Zoned” estate that is still without running water and power. That leaves a ketone note in any humans breath.

    See, we also didn’t have a choice as well back then because Uncle Sam threatened to deport my great parents as they were Spanish Nationals( from Mojacar and little town in Adulucia, Spain)…a crude way but effective way to change someones mind about giving up their property without due process and in the mindset of “National Defense”. Long before world war 2 came about circa 1899, my family was noted to great things for the island because we had the means from large cattle farms and copra plantations. After the land was taken away, my grand parents never had a chance to step foot in the property..they died long before they gave us ID Cards and conditional access until public access in 1992.

    Enough of me….Im getting back to my drink on my boat loaded with fresh tuna and gonna enjoy whats left of beautiful Saipan.

  • freethemarianas

    Sidetracked?
    Most definitely as I am being reminded of definitions long after the topic(s) went cold, just like this 30 yr old bottle of Macallan’s my colleagues and I are drinking while basking in the sunshine of this beautiful island. I may be on the wrong side of even thinking of modifying this drinks temperature. Oh well.

    I wasn’t passed anything that’s for sure, even from other things, but pondering whether to purchase another 27ft boat and/or another huge tract of land is a wonderful thought process for today. I think I’ll go with the boat… Sorry, just sharing..lol!

    Kinda like when someone gives us the Tupperware with goodies… we wash it and fill it all the same when we return it.

    My opinion? Its not wrong to rightfully return what we borrow from our future…just like the Tupperware, noh?

    Esta Primo RCGuam…this is getting old. Even for a young man like me.

  • Juanita Mendiola

    Well, we hope you do not get that opportunity. We hope to keep the tranquil nature of the islands so that our students can thrive at school, our elders can live out the rest of their lives peacfully, and our sick can enjoy peace and quiet while recuperating. Your excitement over noise such as you described has no business in this environment,

    • jun

      Buenas Besinu,

      It all started from hopes and dreams in our live. Majority of all people who had accomplished big on our earthly world came to fruition from their hopes and dreams. Also, like my late father said, “Take advantage of all the opportunities that goes your way in life,” and the military is one big opportunity for all of us.

      At the end of the day, at least we put our two cents relating to the bombing of our island and hopefully Uncle Sam can make our hope and dream possible. We had raised some of our children near military installations and the constant impact of big artillery rounds did not disrupted our way of life and the quality of life within such areas. Our children’s future in the CNMI are at stake also, and like you said we would voice our concerns to protect their future.

      • Juanita Mendiola

        An opportunity to be bombed is an opportunity I would sure want to miss at all costs and thus here we are with the rest of the people who feel the same; ready to stand and fight against the injustice. We were promised economic development not destruction.

  • jun

    “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln

  • richard

    the military has some of the finest training in the world, however you have to work at the training. The military will bring education, training, and when they are on island look at how much they volunteer to help clean up the indigenous trash left out that they didn’t make. The military seems to always voluntary to help were every they go. CNMI has relied heavily on the Corp of Engineers. Where do you thing the Corp got its start. But most importantly they bring jobs and money.

    • freethemarianas

      The Army Corps of Engineers helps a bit here for DOI and other US Federal Projects…but now they are competing with other engineering firms….

  • degkai

    Yes, its very true, with the military presence the CNMI will prosper without the Bombs, and live fire-ring,

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