Dennis B. Chan’s February 26, 2016 article “Report: Military should avoid live-firing training” is enlightening because it shows how little credibility the Navy has with growing trust with Chamorros and Chamolinians in our Mariana Islands chain.
I am glad to see that the U.S. National Park Service is calling out the Navy on ignoring, back peddling, or reversing various stated positions informed from previous navy studies. The National Park Service, in my opinion, is too polite in its characterization that the military “would significantly diminish the integrity and directly adversely affect” Ushi Point, North Field, Landing Beaches (North Field) National Historic Landmark District.
The more accurate portrayal is that the military will damage, destroy, break, and ruin much of the beautiful island of Tinian through use, in part, of amphibious vehicles that weigh several tons, ongoing live-fire exercises using small, medium and large ammo, use of ordnance and just being present, walking and transiting through report identified areas.
I’m also happy to see that the National Park Service has the courage to call out the military on several issues including the irreparability of the damage that will take place on Tinian island, how the Navy is ignoring past assurances to the people of Tinian and how the Navy is contradicting itself. It is most pleasing to see that the National Park Service wants to see the elimination of military proposals to install landing ramps at proposed beach sites because the landing ramps will not only ruin the cultural integrity of identified Tinian beach areas, but will damage and destroy coral and the surrounding areas due to marine corps beach landings and associated operational training activities.
The military, especially the Navy and Marine Corps need to start using plain language and terminology when talking about Tinian, our Marianas Island chain and the region. Overuse of vague descriptives in so much of the material produced by and for the military may work for military technocrats at the Pentagon or U.S. Pacific Command, but are unhelpful toward making islanders comfortable with understanding the total historical site, environmental and Chamorro cultural risk profile on such a small island such as Tinian, should the military get its way.
Chamorros, Chamolinians, and all residents of the Marianas Islands have the right to fully know and to fully understand just how potentially destructive, harmful, damaging and injurious total layered proposed military actions will be, over time, on Tinian’s total environment and to our total Chamorro cultural systems and human health and welfare.
The military, especially the Marines and Navy, have other areas throughout the Asia Pacific to train for readiness to go to war. They can train in Iwo Jima, Australia, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Hawaii, the west coast of the U.S. or other places.
Levels of destruction to Tinian island that will accompany current military desires to train are unacceptable and unreasonable because Tinian is a tiny island and once historical landmarks, surrounding areas, and natural resources like Hagoi wetlands are destroyed or damaged, our Chamorro cultural and environmental resource base cannot be brought back and restored.