The U.S. Department of Defense published on Thursday (Friday CNMI time) its new proposals to establish a series of live-fire and maneuver ranges and training areas on Tinian and Pagan, two months after the release of a study showing insufficient training facilities in the Western Pacific, particularly those in the CNMI.
Defense's notice of intent to prepare the CNMI Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement was published in the Federal Register on March 14.
It says the expansion of these training areas and construction of new ones will satisfy identified training deficiencies for the U.S. Pacific Command forces that are based in or regularly train in the CNMI.
“These RTAs [ranges and training areas] will be available to U.S. forces and their allies on a continuous and uninterrupted schedule. These RTAs are needed to support ongoing operational requirements, changes to U.S. forces structure and geographic positioning of forces, and U.S. training relationships with allied nations,” the notice said.
A January 2013 requirements and siting study identified 42 unfilled training requirements.
Neither Tinian nor Pagan can support all identified training requirements alone; however, in combination they present a variety of preliminary alternative ranges and training area configurations.
Around the same time the DoD issued the notice, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John M. Paxton, along with other military officials, visited Tinian Friday afternoon.
Paxton, the assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and his support staff from the Pentagon, Marine Forces Pacific-HawaiI and Marine Forces Forward-Guam, arrived at 12:30pm at West Field Airport for a “windshield tour” of Tinian, the Tinian mayor's chief of staff Don Farrell said.
After a quick lunch, the group quickly inspected the Tinian Harbor, then drove north to Able Runway, the bomb pits, Chulu, Mt. Lasso, 107th and back to the airport, Tinian officials said.
Accompanying Paxton were USMC Col. Lawrence S. Loch; USMC Brig Gen. Paul Kennedy; USMC William R. Constantini, special assistant to the Assistant to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff; and retired U.S. Army Maj Gen. Craig Waldon, executive director of Marine Forces Pacific, said Farrell.
Farrell said Waldon will be back to the CNMI for the public scoping meetings on the newly-published notice of intent to proceed with the Marines' new plan for the use of Tinian and Pagan.
Three public scoping meetings on Saipan and Tinian have been scheduled. The first one will be on April 10 from 5pm to 8pm in the cafeteria of Dandan Elementary School. This will be followed on April 11 from 4pm to 7pm at Tinian Gym. The third one will be on April 12 from 5pm to 8pm at the Carolinian Utt in Garapan.