Given the unique relationship between the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States government and the complexity of Department of Defense initiatives, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres believes it is imperative to pursue an engagement strategy that ensures strong stewardship, long term sustainability, and is mutually beneficial, non pre-decisional and collaborative.
With the establishment of the Civil Military Liaison Office through the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment Grant, the people of the Commonwealth can more proactively engage DoD initiatives.
According to Torres, current resources are insufficient to address the challenge in a timely and responsive manner; however, the Civil Military Liaison Office is an incremental approach in addressing proposed DoD activities such as live fire training, economic diversification and the CNMI Covenant.
Torres adds that in order for the U.S. government to carry out its defense responsibilities, the Covenant made approximately 27.8 sq. mi. of Tinian and its adjacent waters, approximately 0.3 sq. mi. at Tanapag Harbor, and Farallon de Medinilla and adjacent waters available through a lease signed in 1983 for an initial term of 50 years with the option to renew.
Since 2010, the DoD has initiated five independent Environmental Impact Statements and Overseas Environmental Impact Statements affecting the Commonwealth.
“The Civil Military Liaison Office will address the October 2015 United States Air Force Headquarters Pacific Air Force Divert Activities, the May 2015 United States Pacific Fleet Marianas Islands Training and Testing, the April 2015 United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific CNMI Joint Military Training, the July 2010 United States Navy Marine Relocation, and the May 2010 United States Pacific Fleet Mariana Islands Range Complex. The purpose of the CMLO is to provide a single point of contact for all federal actions, ensure Commonwealth equities are protected, allow for better informed decision making and enhance communications with DoD and community outreach and awareness,” Torres said.
The grant was co-authored by the CNMI Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse in partnership with the Office of the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Matt Deleon Guerrero. Operating under the Office of the Governor, the DoD-OEA grant covers a civil military liaison executive director and a grants manager with crucial emphasis on DoD engagements that take place outside the Commonwealth. Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse Administrator Mr. Epi Cabrera shares that the CMLO will report directly to the Governor and keep the Administration informed on briefings, reports and white papers while providing updates to stakeholders and the media.
Cabrera also adds that the CMLO will gather relevant documents and establish a repository for accessible reference and documentation on federal related issues.