Mariana Islands Range Complex

US allies to use Marianas for training
By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff
friday 29 june 07
——————–

THE U.S. and its major military allies in the Asia-Pacific region —
Australia and Japan — will be using air, sea and land areas on Guam and
the Northern Marianas for training.

This month, the U.S. defense representative to Guam, the Commonwealth of
the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the
Republic of Palau began the early stages of preparing an environmental
impact statement/overseas environmental impact statement in connection
with the range complex’s proposed update and active use.

This range complex, which covers Guam and the Northern Marianas, was last
updated in 1999.

This month, American and Japanese pilots held a two-week joint aerial live
bombing exercises on the uninhabited island of Farallon de Mendinilla,
about 45 miles north-northeast of Saipan.

This is the first time that Japanese pilots tested their high-tech war
planes known as F-2 outside of Japan since the prototypes were made in
2000.

Lt. Donnell Evans of the U.S. Commander Naval Forces Marianas public
information office said the military is not conducting any new training
but simply wants to update the study of the ranges amid plans to more
actively use them.

“The training that we’re doing now is sometimes obvious to the public and
sometimes not obvious,” said Evans. “We’re looking at training on
currently controlled-(Department of Defense) lands but the difference is
this is an update to the study of the ranges. We’re a little bit behind
because of budget and financial (constraints).”

“(The Mariana Islands Range Complex) is very important. It allows us to
get quality training. Not just for the U.S…. These same training ranges
will be available to our allies. It helps us in relationship building. It
helps us in being proficient in working with the different military and it
also helps us be proficient in what our business is,” he added.

Besides Australia and Japan, the navies of Singapore, Thailand and
Malaysia, among others, may also use the ranges for training, said Evans.
Among the proposed upgrades include activities for underwater mine warfare
and antisubmarine warfare, underwater training range, new small arms and
mortar ranges and military operations on urban terrain.

Northern Marianas is claiming rights and control over its 200-mile
submerged lands. But the U.S. claimed the islands surrendered its rights
on such when it became part of the nation through their Covenant Agreement
in 1976.

During the recently held scoping meeting on Saipan, a public document
showed that the Mariana Islands Range Complex has provided the U.S.
military with a safe testing and training environment for over 100 years.

“The land, air, and sea areas of the Mariana islands are irreplaceable.
These areas are important to all people of the Marianas, including members
of the U.S. military services who call the Marianas their home,” the
document stated.

“The ranges and facilities of the Mariana Islands Range Complex are unique
because of their location in the western Pacific where deployed forces can
maintain warfighting proficiencies. This range complex is also in
proximity to Forward Deployed Naval Forces, which also need to maintain
their warfighting proficiency,” it added.

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