Tinian mayor conveys letter of ‘extreme concern’ to Chatfield


Tinian Mayor Joey P. San Nicolas has raised some concerns about the French-led exercise, Jeanne D’Arc 2017, that started on Tinian yesterday.

In a letter “of extreme concern” to Rear Adm. Shoshana S. Chatfield, commander of Joint Region Marianas that was dated yesterday, San Nicolas said that despite initial meetings more than a month ago with his military liaison/policy adviser, the tactics of the exercise’s point of contacts shows a lack of transparency, which “is extremely unfortunate.”

“The document providing critical information for…Tinian & Aguiguan was only transmitted via Director Randel Sablan to my advisor this past Friday, May 12, 2017, at approximately 6pm. Considering that is only [three] days before the scheduled commencement of the exercise, May 15, 2017, it is extremely disappointing,” he said.

San Nicolas pointed out that this short time gives him not enough time to inform residents about a plan to do a rubber boat insertion exercise for Chulu Beach starting yesterday. He said Tinian residents fish on that beach both during the day and at night.

“We have expressed support of our relationship with the military and it is unfortunate that the people of Tinian are placed in this predicament when due diligence should have been given from the [Department of Defense’s] side of the table” he said in his letter.

The exercise resumed in Guam last Saturday after being suspended when a French landing craft ran aground near Reserve Craft Beach on May 12, 2017.

Capt. Jeff Grimes, Joint Region Marianas Chief of Staff, said “ We have assessed that we can resume this important multinational training after our staffs closely reviewed this incident.”

Jeanne D’ Arc is a French-led exercise aimed at strengthening strategic partnerships and exercise of freedom navigation operations across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. U.S. Marine Corps and multinational forces from Japan, France, and the United Kingdom participated in the exercise.

“I am confident that we and our international partners have improved our preparation, instituted additional supervision and put in place sufficient mitigations to ensure we can safely execute the training objectives for the duration of this exercise,” Grimes added.

Bea Cabrera

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