Bombing Paradise: The Pentagon Expands its List of Pacific Islands Targeted for Destruction
October 21, 2013
Moana Nui & Rolynda Jonathan / OceanaTV & Michael Hadfield / The Sierra Club & NDJ World Mobile
The US military is considering seizing two islands in the Northern Marianas to use as explosive training sites. Tinian and Pagan are being explored as potential sites for live explosive training as part of the US' military $12.1 billion build-up in the Pacific. Pagan Island has been inhabited by Chamorro people for more than 2,000 years and the island has provided a pristine habitat for a range of unique animals and plants, many of them endemic, rare and endangered.
Special to EAW
US Military Planning to Target Pagan Island
US Considers CNMI For Military Explosives Training
(June 16, 2013) -- The United States military is considering the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) for an explosive training site. Two areas in CNMI, namely Tinian and Pagan are being explored as potential sites for live explosive training as part of the US' military build up in the Pacific. But opposition movements on CNMI have expressed concerns about potential environmental damage and access to areas with cultural significance such as Pagan.
The US military eyed CNMI as a potential location for the Marines training site as Guam and Hawaii are reportedly at capacity.
Major Neal Fisher Marines Public Affairs Officer on Guam told Radio New Zealand that an environmental impact report will be prepared over the next year and if live-fire activity have a severe impact on CNMI, they will return to the drawing board.
A Guam Pacific Daily News report indicates that the US military restructure in the Pacific costs $12.1 billion, but the military cannot provide accurate cost information to budget makers until environmental studies including negotiations with host nations such as Guam and the CNMI are complete.
A History of the Militarization of the Marianas
And the Growing Popular Resistance
Julian Aguon / IntelForm & Moana Nui
(October 10, 2013) -- Native Chamorro attorney and author Julian Aguon speaks on the arresting beauty of Pagan island, US imperialism, indigenous rights and the language of loss.
Pagan Island --
Too Beautiful to Bomb
Michael Hadfield / The Sierra Club
(September 16, 2013) -- Pagan Island, one of a string of volcanic islands that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), is an ancient home to the Chamorro people and the habitat of unique animals and plants, many of them endemic, rare and endangered.
Those natural and cultural resources are being put at risk by a plan by the US Marines to use the island as a live-fire training ground. In scoping documents related to the environmental impact statement required for that plan to go forward, the Marines have characterized Pagan Island as being "desolate and uninhabitable." Photographs included below show how untrue this is.
Under a contract with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sierra Club member Mike Hadfield of the University of Hawaii and his research team spent two weeks on Pagan Island, traversing it and cataloging biological resources found there.
Team members saw firsthand what is at stake and are working with residents of the Northern Mariana Islands to engage other individuals and organizations, including the Sierra Club, in the struggle to save Pagan Island….
Pagan Island has been inhabited by Chamorro people for more than 2,000 years, as attested by remains of ancient villages. It continues to be the home of a small population of Chamorros, and many more want to return to their ancestral homelands. Recent articles from Marianas newspapers, which can be found on the Save Pagan Island website, tell of the connection many people feel with Pagan and other northern islands and their desire to return to them.
Pagan Island is beautiful and peaceful now, but it is at grave risk of being bombed, blasted, and shelled into a ruined and uninhabitable place if the US military succeeds in turning it into a "target island" for live-fire training, as has happened in the past with other islands used for such purposes, including Vieques Island in Puerto Rico, Kaho'olawe Island in Hawai'i, and the Bikini, Enewetak, and Kwajelein Atolls in the Marshall Islands. Islands such as Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, have simply been taken away from their native inhabitants and never returned to them.
The Save Pagan Island website (www.savepaganisland.org) provides a wealth of information on the history of the island, the US Marines' plan for taking the island for live-fire training, the residents' reactions to those plans, plus more photos that illustrate the beauty of the island. The website is building a broad base of support for taking on the political forces supporting the US military's plan.
Future steps in the struggle will include review of the environmental impact statement now being prepared by the US Marine Corps for its planned uses of Pagan Island and other areas in the CNMI.
The Sierra Club and other organizations with relevant expertise will be working with Save Pagan Island to review the EIS, make comments on it, and assure that the final EIS meets the legal requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.
Michael Hadfield is a Professor of Biology at the University of Hawai'i.
12 Beautiful Islands The US Military Uses For Target Practice
NDJ World Mobile
(September 8, 2013) -- The US military uses 12 beautiful islands where soldiers practice their shooting and bombing skills, even though these islands are of significant environmental importance, with many of the landmasses growing fauna and flora that can not be found anywhere else in the world.
The Pagan-Island, which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands is such place where flora and fauna grow that is unique to the Island. Scientists fear that continued target practicing by the US military on the Island will result in all those rare and unique plants disappearing eventually.
The Bikini-atoll, part of the Marshal Islands, is possibly the best known US Military test site. After World War II, the US Military conducted numerous hydrogen and atomic bomb tests on the island, forcing those living there to move. After the tests were completed, residents were allowed to return to Bikini but radiation levels were too high and people were forced to move again. Today there are less than 10 people living on the island.
Enewetak, also part of the Marshal Islands, is the location where the United States tested its very first hydrogen bomb in 1952. In 1977 the United States dumped the nuclear waste and radioactive dirt in one of the craters on the island and filled up the hole with a thick layer of cement.
The Kwajalein Atoll is a third Marshal Island region used by US military to test its firing power. In 2012, the US Military conducted its largest air assault test ever on the Kwajalein Atoll. The Marshall Islands are made up of 90 separate islands. The United States owns 11 of them.
The Island of Culebra, which is part of Puerto Rico, was used as a gunning and bombing test site by the US Navy from 1939 to 1975. In 1971 the people of Culebra began protests, known as the “Navy-Culebra protests”, for the removal of the US Navy from Culebra. Four years later, in 1975, the use of Culebra as a gunnery range ceased and all operations were moved to Vieques.
Vieques, a neighboring island of Culebra, was used by the US Navy as a military practicing site from 1949 to 2001, occupying two-thirds of the island. The island was fired upon from the air or from the sea. In 1999 a resident of Vieques was killed when a US Navy bombing test went wrong, giving rise to a massive protest by locals, forcing the US Navy to halt all operations.
The Aleutian Islands, located between the US and Russia, just west of Alaska, extend about 1,200 miles and are made up of a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 57 smaller ones.
Between 1965 and 1971 the US military performed 3 atomic bomb tests on the island of Amchitka. The largest of the bombs, called “the Cannikin” had an atomic force that was 385 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima Japan. It is the largest underground nuclear explosion by the United States to date.
The Makua Valley located off the western coast of the O okina ahu island in Hawaii, is being used by the US Military since 1920 to conduct mortar shells and artillery exercises.
The Kaho’olawe Island in Hawaii has been a test site for the US Military since WWII. In 1965 the US Marines detonated a 500 ton TNT bomb which made a gigantic crater impression on the Island. The huge crater is off limits for the most part because there are still other explosives left behind that did not detonate. All testing were halted on the Island in 1990, when long dragging protests forced the US military to stop their bombing practices.
Kirimati or “Christmas Island”, which is the largest Atoll in the world and belongs to the Republic of Kiribati, was a test site for the US Military from 1957 to 1962. During that time, the British military was also using the island to conduct its own gun and bombing tests.
The Johnston Atoll, an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean, about 750 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, was a US military test site and military landing base for 70 years. During that time, the island was also used as a dumping ground to expose of chemical weapons. In 2004, the island came under the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Services and has been ever since.
The Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on the big island of Hawaii is the United States Military’s largest training/testing site in the Pacific Ocean. The area includes a small military airstrip known as “Bradshaw Army Airfield”. The region was used for live fire exercises in 1943 during World War II. PTA has a 51,000 acres impact area which is used for bombing and gunnery practice.
The area got refurbished in March 2009 to allow helicopter training. Its remoteness allows a wide range of weapons to be used, including the Davy Crockett nuclear rifle with dummy warheads and depleted Uranium. Radiation has been detected in the area but levels are said not to be life-threatening.
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