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Marine Corps document reveals plans to lease Pagan

A MARINE Corps document from 2018 outlines plans to create live-fire training ranges on Tinian and lease Pagan for use as an additional training range.

The Defense Policy Review Initiative or DPRI United States Marine Corps Update — dated December 7, 2018 — was released to Shawn Snow, senior reporter for Marine Corps Times, following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The 15-page document references the “20+ years and nine international agreements with Japan seeking to [in bullet points]: Strengthen U.S.-Japan alliance, Enhance Interoperability, Bolster Regional Security, Reduce the Burden on Okinawa, and Develop Guam as a Strategic Hub.”

One graphic included in the update shows troops in Okinawa being sent to Hawaii, Guam, and Darwin, Australia. The report later lists that 2,700 Marines and 2,000 dependents will be sent from Okinawa to Hawaii (“subject to results of NEPA EIS”), 1,300 will be sent from Okinawa to Darwin, and 4,100 will be sent from Okinawa to Guam. According to the DPRI, the Marines will begin relocation to Guam by 2024 and all traveling Marines — including an additional 600 from the U.S. mainland — will be stationed on Guam by 2028.

The document also includes an overview of the “Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Training Initiative (CJMT),” in which Pagan and Tinian are listed as prime training grounds.

Bullet points referring to Tinian read, “Medium (CO-level) live-fire mechanized ground artillery, and close air support training with amphibious beach landings” and “Transient base camp supports Guam-based and transiting units.”

Bullet points referring to Pagan read, “Offers premier U.S.-controlled Pacific venue for unilateral and combined amphibious training,” “MAGTF/MEU-level live-fire combined arms and amphibious maneuver unimpeded from skim to objective,” and, “Once leased, ready for use by forces supported by amphibious ships without MILCON investment.”

The final Pagan bullet reads, in bold, “Uniquely meets PACOM-identified training deficiencies (e.g. CAS [Close Air Support], NGFS [Naval Gunfire Support], artillery direct fire); supplements Tinian in meeting other deficiencies.”

The need to compensate for “training deficiencies” on Guam by training Marines in the CNMI appears to conflict with statements made by the Navy’s legal counsel during Tinian Women Association et al v. United States Department of the Navy et al, a lawsuit regarding the military buildup in the Marianas that was argued in NMI District Court last summer; according to the defendants, the Guam Relocation plan is not “illegally segmented” from the CNMI training ranges plan:

“…[T]he Navy reasonably decided to study CJMT and the Guam Relocation as separate actions because each serves important independent purposes,” reads the Navy’s legal brief.

But under the heading “Key Takeaways” toward the end of the DPRI, the document reads, “CMC [Commandant of the Marine Corps] established adequate, available training as a prerequisite for the Marines relocating to Guam.”

Finally, the DPRI mentions financial and logistical challenges involved in relocating troops from Okinawa:

“Further distribution of the force exacerbates a shortfall in Navy amphibious shipping and dedicated sea surface lift capacity,” it reads. “Sustainment for Guam is a significant bill which must be addressed and balanced across other DOD priorities.”