How the military bumbles with islanders


The military is its own worst enemy when it comes to matters of developing trust and growing credibility with Mariana islanders. The military, in short, bumbles with islanders.  
This is so for many reasons and here are just three examples:

1) When it comes to the CJMT EIS-OEIS the military did not include visual depictions that accurately portray what military training will look like on Pagan and Tinian. In other words there are no fancy colored photographs included in the CJMT materials showing islanders what an island looks like after it has been bombed.  

Instead what islanders get is a bunch of maps that are hard to read, difficult to understand, and laden with colors and shapes.  

2) When it comes to the CJMT EIS-OEIS the military did not include historical examples that clearly and completely demonstrate to islanders that what is being proposed is environmentally and culturally safe and restorative. Why was Guam not referenced in any capacity as a prime example of how to properly manage environmental and cultural harm and injury when it comes to matters tied to the military?  

No references were made to Vieques. No references were made to Kahoolawe. What are the reasons behind these omissions?  

3) When it comes to the CJMT EIS-OEIS the military failed to thoroughly explain its rationale behind why it “surveyed” ocean areas down to only 12 feet below the surface.  The military also failed to explain why it previously was planning to “survey” at least 40 feet below the ocean surface and it failed to identify if the “survey” was to mean 12 feet below the waterline at high tide or 12 feet below the waterline at low tide.  

The military failed to thoroughly explain what value is to be extracted from conducting “surveys” in the first place and it remains unclear how islanders should interpret these “surveys” when it comes to understanding the total environment.   

These three examples provide just one picture of how the military is its own worst enemy when it comes to matters of the Marianas.  

Maybe the first thing the military should do before moving forward with any additional work related to the CJMT EIS-OEIS is to first delete the words “locally named places” and replace it with the words “Chamorro named places.” Let’s not try to make the Chamorro culture invisible and let’s start calling location names in Pagan and Tinian what they are, “Chamorro” names.

My hope is the military makes the decision to go to Iwo Jima to conduct its unit and combined training or Australia, or the Philippines or South Korea. The Asia-Pacific region is expansive and there are other places to drop bombs and blow things up besides the Marianas.  

Rick Perez
Hanover, New Hampshire

Contributing Author

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