Tinian and Aguiguan Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas and the Tinian leadership welcome continued open lines of communication with the Department of Defense with regards to the Air Force’s proposed plans to conduct “divert” training activities and exercises exclusively on the island of Tinian.
“I think that it is premature to say that we fully welcome divert training exercises and activities when at this point, we do not know what these plans fully entail given that DOD has only announced that Tinian is now its ‘preferred alternative,’” said San Nicolas.
In 2012, the Tinian and Aguiguan Legislative Delegation passed a resolution welcoming divert training activities to Tinian with the understanding that the plans will be complimentary to Tinian’s desire to enhance the infrastructure at the air and sea commercial ports for its tourism and gaming industry.
“In 2012 when the Tinian delegation gave its full support to divert training activities and exercises, it was our belief that the airport would be benefited by the infrastructure that would be built as it could be jointly used for commercial activities. We believed then that this would allow us to welcome international flights that would ultimately benefit our economy,” said TALD chair Sen. Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian).
“The 2012 plans, the plans being presented today and the opportunity for Tinian’s economic development are substantially different from when we gave our blessing to these plans four years ago.”
The Tinian leadership has not yet had the opportunity to fully engage in dialogue with the DOD to discuss what the actual proposed plans are and how the plans would ultimately impact the community of Tinian. “We believe that the announcement that Tinian is the ‘preferred alternative’ is only the beginning of preliminary discussions between the people of the CNMI, DOD and most importantly, the community of Tinian who will ultimately be most impacted either negatively or positively, by the divert plans,” said Senate President Francisco Borja (Ind-Tinian). “The leadership and the community must be given the opportunity to assess the proposal, determine what the actual benefits and burdens are to the community and determine whether these plans can co-exist with our tourism and gaming industry.”
San Nicolas also expresses his concerns over the potential overlap and connection between the divert training exercises, the CNMI Joint Military Training exercises (CJMT), the Marianas Islands Training and Testing (MITT) exercises and the Marianas Islands Range Complex (MIRC) exercises. “While the proponents of the divert would like us to believe that these different planned exercises do not overlap, we must do our own due diligence to look at these plans for ourselves and ensure that our community is protected,” said Tinian Municipal Council chair Reynaldo M. Cing. (PR)