Tinian's historic North Field will be closed to the public beginning today because of military exercise that would include having U.S. Marines training alongside Japanese forces in the next few days, some 67 years after troops from these two nations fought against each other on the same island during World War II.
Maj. Jonathan Bossie, officer in charge of training and advisor with Special Operations Training Group with the III Marine Expeditionary Force, said last night that the Military Exclusive Use Area-mostly North Field-will be closed from today to Sept. 15.
North Field's Runway Baker will remain closed from Sept. 15 to Sept. 18.
The whole of North Field will be closed again for live fire exercises between Sept. 18 and Sept. 22.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz said the public's patience and understanding will be greatly appreciated.
North Field is one of Tinian's famous tourist attractions.
Bossie also said last night that details about the arrival on Tinian of the rest of the participants to the exercise, as well as other information about the training, may be known today.
Some 65 U.S. Marines based in Okinawa arrived on Tinian Thursday night to prepare the training sites, to be followed early this week by an additional 150 Marines, along with Japanese Self-Defense Force troops.
The joint exercises, dubbed Mariana Islands Complex Certification Exercise or Certex, would mark the first time Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force will be training alongside each other. The Tinian mayor earlier described it as another “history in the making.”
Japanese media have also expressed interest in covering the bilateral training exercises on Tinian.
Rep. Trenton Conner (R-Tinian) said yesterday he's hoping that this ongoing military training will really help boost the island's economy.
“I've seen some going to stores and buying some stuff. I'm just really hoping there will be multiplier effect on the economy. Right now I haven't heard about the extent, if any, of community or volunteer projects that these Marines will do this time around,” he said.
Two-thirds of Tinian lands are leased by the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Tinian mayor has been requesting the military to use their leased lands to help boost the island's economy.
Tinian, one of the main islands of the CNMI, played a major role during the war. It had the busiest air strip during the war, and was the launching pad for the two atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, putting a decisive end to World War II.
Don Farrell, CNMI historian and the Tinian mayor's chief of staff, separately said yesterday that they expect the “hostage rescue operation,” which is among the highlights of the ongoing military exercises on Tinian, to commence between now and the next few days.
Farrell said some 15 amphibious tractors carrying some 150 U.S. Marines “and possibly Japanese Self-Defense Force” troops are expected to arrive on Tinian between today and Wednesday. He said the Japanese troops may arrive separate from the U.S. troops.
Farrell also led a “cultural indoctrination” yesterday at Tachogna Beach for the Marines that already arrived on Tinian last Thursday night.
Tinian is hosting only small fraction of the estimated 2,200 U.S. Marines and sailors that are taking part in a military exercise in Guam and the CNMI this month.