The CNMI dilemma with the US military training exercises

If I have to choose between allowing the U.S. military to use Tinian and Pagan for its live-fire training exercises, on one hand, and allowing Chinese nationals and businesses to use Saipan to operate casinos and other gambling operations, on the other, I would definitely choose the U.S. military—hands down. It’s a no brainer.

The CNMI is an integral part of the United States. We are a part of the American political family and we are United States citizens. We receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grant monies over the years to provide public service for our people. The U.S. military provides for our national defense. So what is our response to the military when it plans to have military training exercises in the CNMI? Complete ingratitude. Before Department of Defense officials even have the opportunity to explain to our local leaders what they are planning to do, we begin throwing rocks at them. We begin making unfounded accusations against them. We begin making plans to sue them. Why? Because of environmental concerns, some say. But what about national security concerns? Shouldn’t we be concerned about that much more?

Don’t we realize that the world is still a dangerous place? Witness Putin’s aggressive and unlawful annexation of Crimea in the Ukraine. When you have a despot like Putin running Russia with his finger on the “red button,” shouldn’t we be concerned? When you have China amassing its military and naval forces in the Far East, shouldn’t we be concerned, out here in the Pacific? Maybe during times that are less foreboding, we could ask the military to reconsider its plans for Tinian and Pagan. But all that it’s asking now is to conduct live-fire training on these islands, not bombing the hell out of these islands and blasting them to pieces.

I have no problem with the fact that the military should comply with NEPA—the National Environmental Policy Act. This is the law. And if they are in compliance, then what is the problem? What is all the commotion being made by some of our people? What we need to do is to calm down and not let our emotions override our reason and common sense. We might even ask the military to help the CNMI with some of our CIP projects, such as the Tinian Breakwater Restoration Project, the Rota West Harbor Project, and so forth. We must also remember that for better or worse, the CNMI and Guam are a part of America’s “first line of defense.” Yes, that’s what we are, even if nobody wants to say it out loud. The NMI Covenant was entered into by the United States, first and foremost, because of the strategic importance of the Northern Marianas to the U.S. If we still do not see this point, then we are really being naïve. Let us stop the thinking that some of us have that we are a freely associated state like Palau, the FSM, and the Marshalls. We are not. Those are independent countries. Our country is the United States.

Alexander “Colonel” Sablan
Dandan

ShareTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someonePrint this page
Jun Dayao Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

Related Posts

  • jun

    Buenas Colonel,

    I was driving North on Interstate 5 near Lakewood (WA), as I pass by the Main gate at Fort Lewis, I could not believe that the military would not be setting camp in the CNMI. The revenue that could be realize from such arrangement on our soil is an up hill battle. But as I exited the and took the back road to Spanaway, a thundering sound from a C17 doing a landing pattern, gave me the assurance that the United States military would be coming to the CNMI in full force and at all cost. Let us not worry about the activists who would want to derail our potential economic growth for our island chain.

    Si Yu’us Ma’ase

    • Tinalakattne Yantitiyas

      Jun, We don’t mind the development and some CPR to our economy. Question is at what cost? I served in the military and still serving. I do know and have witness the capacity and propensity to lay waste the US military can exact on a small ecosystem be it intentional or unintentional. Also, I am not willing just to look the other way while my fellow islanders whom have lands on Pagan be roughshod for the want to feel a pitter-patter of Patriotism in my chest or “purported economic growth.” Devil is in the details my brother. And shame on you for stating ” Let us not worry about the activists who would want to derail our potential economic growth for our island chain.” Let the government take your family’s property and see how you feel. Also, you speak like we got islands out of wazzu. We continue to give freely as the Native Americans did and eventually, all will be lost as they have lost an entire continent! Karamba Lai!

      • jun

        Buenas Tinalakattne Yantitiyas,

        We thank you for your service to our country and don’t get me wrong that it is all about patriotism. To our understanding, the CNMI government had compensated the residents of Pagan for the land they left behind due to natural calamity.

        When was the last time you set up camp with the underprivileged in the CNMI? Are you aware of the suffering and the hunger that had to be endured by some of our islanders each and everyday? Do you know that many are living without running water and electricity? Many of our islanders could not work due to the lack of public transportation. It is not shame on me, it is shame on us for looking the other way on issues affecting our working poor and our underprivileged residents. You and I are very lucky that we can provide for our family. What good does it make to save our islands, while many of our brothers and sisters don’t know what would be their next meal daily? If we are going to worry about destruction on the CNMI, we should stop the poker machines and any form of gambling for the masses, because it had brought our brothers and sisters miseries in their lives. I am advocating for the destruction of two of our islands, so our underprivileged islanders can be given the opportunity to be self sufficient and to prosper in their lives. The next time you drive your car to work, remember that some of our underprivileged walk several miles to work to survive. I am content with a dollar a month and I live below my means by choice, but let us not forget our unfortunate islanders. Let us not protect our islands for the connected political few.

        Si Yu’us Ma’ase

        • Tinalakattne Yantitiyas

          Sorry brother. Issues above would not be solved by sacrificing Pagan. Land continues to give. Money comes and goes and is not guaranteed.

          True and unfortunate, there will always be people struggling. That is life. There are some that rise above and seek to do better. Some just totally do not do for
          themselves. Can lead horse to water-hole but can’t force it to drink. Also, our elected leaders needs to learn to put the people they represent first. Case on point : Mr. Fitial. We govern with selfish intents/wants.

          All in all, giving Pagan up is not the answer.

          • jun

            Buenas Tinalakattne Yantitiyas,

            We thank you for being civil relating to the issue we are discussing above.

            So, if you have the answer for the predicament I mentioned above let us know, so we can join hands to better our society. But as for now, the only solution to our working poor and underprivileged in the CNMI is the infusion of the military economy. If our students are lacking toilet tissues at our public school system, the system that is set up to help our society had fail us all. You and I know that the Casino Industry would mainly benefit the political connected and while the rest suffer. But Uncle Sam would be fair with all of us and the potential millions of dollars from the infusion of the military spending would eventually end up helping our unfortunate individuals.

            We may not help all the underprivileged islanders, but at least open up doors to better themselves. You and I were given opportunities to better ourselves in the past and we both took it running. Let us not be selfish and let us help our brothers and sisters throughout our island chain by allowing a military economy proceed.

            Si Yu’us Ma’ase

          • Tinalakattne Yantitiyas

            Tun Jun, the issues we have are for the most part self inflicted. From alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, betel nut, to meth. Pair that in with flashing lights (poker) and off we go. Tie that all in with $5.55 an hour and the poor keeps getting poorer and rich richer. Then a table spoon of poorly handled government from Governor on down and a pinch of lack of caring from the public. Of course between $5.55 per hour and food stamp; food stamp might be the better choice.

            Giving Pagan will not solve above at all my brother. Selling or allowing our ancestral lands to be taken is not and never will be the answer. But if you think so, then ask/tell your family to give up their lands. Just saying….

  • Juanita Mendiola

    The problem nai is they may not be in compliance, and there are a great many evidence in the Environmental Impact Statement that indicates noncompliance. This is only for the courts to decide. Your biased attitude against the Chinese is clouding your judgment when it comes to the United States Military. We are just as American as anyone in the US and thus have every right to question their actions most especially when it comes to destroying our islands.

  • Saipanshipguy

    I would first thank the author of the article for voicing a valid point of view so far unheard.

    To those whom have also made their opinions known, I would reply that the CNMI does have a relationship with the United States. It is a special one as the CNMI, of all the States, Territories and Districts is based upon a Covenant that is strictly fashioned to be biased towards the NMD population. No other part of the United States has such a thing as land restriction based upon race or heritage.

    Being American and US Citizens entails equality across the spectrum of existence, nobody is supposed to have special treatment over another.

    There are sovereign nations of American Indians that have protected lands that still have some exposure to the needs of the Nation as a whole. They too also enjoy the right to question activities.

    Segments of a massive and destructive war were fought on these islands, please compare photo’s from say, circa 1950 to those of today prior to convincing yourselves and making the attempt to convince others that the proposed training is the end of everything. The islands can heal.

    God Bless America and Those that Serve to Protect us all.

    • Juanita Mendiola

      The islands can heal? When? This is not about being related to the United States, this is not a question of who is sovereign over who. This is a question of destruction and no one, even parents of children, are allowed to destroy anyone’s livelihood and existence. Being grateful is one thing, being free to express yourself is quite another, and being FREE to disagree on how these islands are treated is also quite another. Stop trying to dilute the issue with everything else that has nothing to do with bombings! Read and understand the effects that the military is proposing and nothing else. You do not like Chinese investments? Fine. Encourage your leaders to invite others and get rid of Chinese. It still has nothing to do with bombings!

      • Saipanshipguy

        UMMM? Just where did I refer to Chinese anything? I did however, make mention that war had been fought on these islands and yes, very little evidence of those damages exists today. Please accept an invitation to leave National Defense to those that just might have a clue how terrible war is and that the preparations for defense must prepare for that reality? Honest and reciprocal discussion leads to understanding, I’d guess that this is what will lead to what will happen in the end. Meanwhile, grab a trash bag and help save the islands from the mountain of garbage that accumulates daily from the current residents who also care so, so ,much!

  • Tinalakattne Yantitiyas

    Excuse me lai Alexandro but we gave up FDM. Also, we continue to serve in the US Military. Why don’t you join the service brotha’ and show some patriotism? Ai’ lokkue Che’luhu.

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.