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    Saturday, December 7, 2019-5:33:53P.M.






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Governor leads NMI delegation to Hawaii for live-fire training demonstration and discussions with DoD

(Office of the Governor) — A CNMI delegation led by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres was in Hawaii recently for a series of meetings and live fire training demonstrations or LFTD at the invitation of the Department of Defense.

Ralph Torres

Accompanying the governor were the Senate president, the chairman of the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, members of the Tinian Legislative Delegation, the mayor of Tinian & Aguiguan, the mayor of the Northern Islands, members of the Tinian & Aguiguan Municipal Council, and members of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Ports Authority.

LFTDs were demonstrated on training ranges located at Schofield Barracks Army Base in Oahu, Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, and at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.

Scholfield Barracks Army Base is the Command Headquarters for the U.S. Army Hawaii and the 25th Infantry division, centrally located on Oahu.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii is home to the 3rd Marine Squadron, Marine Aircraft Group 14, Combat Logistics Battalion 3rd Radio Battalion and the Navy’s Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2.

The Pohakuloa Training Area, located on the Big Island, is a training range for military units to conduct small-arms, artillery, mortar, rocket and missile live fire training exercises used by the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force for combat readiness.

At each of the training ranges and LFTDs, the CNMI delegation was given a presentation on the training range, weapons used, the range’s safety and protocols, and “environmental stewardship.” Following the presentations, the delegation observed training exercises and live fire weapon demonstrations of various weapons ranging from small arms fire to heavy artillery and rockets. At each training range, the delegation had an opportunity to examine static displays of weapons and equipment used during the training exercises and the LFTDs, inclusive of a sound observation exercise to observe the volume of sound generated at set distances from the LFTDs.

Governor Torres said the demonstrations offered a glimpse of the types of weapons and ammunition the Department of Defense is proposing for use on Tinian and Pagan.

“The first-hand observations provided a better understanding of the military’s proposals for the respective islands, as well as the environmental, social and economic effects of the types of training involved for armed forces readiness,” the governor said.

The CNMI delegation was also provided with an overview of the management programs that are in place for each training area to ensure safe operations, preservation of culturally sensitive sites and critical habitats, the protection and management of threatened and endangered species, natural resources program for the protection of botanical and wildlife, management of solid waste and wildlife fire response, including environmental management programs.

“I was pleased to learn of the rules imposed by federal and state regulations on the Department of Defense in the course of carrying out training exercises. Standard Operating Procedures are in place for pre-training, during, and post-training activities, which include on-the-ground safety officers, environmental program managers, among other subject matter experts,” the governor said.

While the governor recognizes and appreciates the training mitigation management programs, the governor nevertheless recognizes that any proposed DoD training program in the CNMI requires considerable time and constructive discussion.

“We are very concerned with potential effects on our islands and on the welfare of our people. This requires a lot more discussions to ensure a mutually beneficial outcome while preserving our cultural values and way of life,” the governor said.

On behalf of the CNMI delegation, Governor Torres extends his appreciation to the Department of Defense for the opportunity extended to the CNMI delegation to observe the various LFTDs.

“I fully recognize the logistical coordination and the mobilization of resources involved to enable our delegation to observe first-hand the types of trainings and exercises being considered in the Commonwealth,” said Torres. “I would like to thank USINDOPACOM commander, Adm. Phillip Davidson, Maj. Gen. Suzie Vares-Lum, Maj. Gen. Mike Minihan, Joint Region Marianas Rear Adm. John Menoni, Deputy Commander U.S. Marine Corps Forces Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Infrastructure Allison Sands, and the Office of Economic Adjustments, for this opportunity. We look forward to continuing our dialogue and reaching for mutually beneficial partnership with the Department of Defense.”

Governor Torres also thanked all the service members who carried out the demonstrations and to those who provided an overview of the management programs and standard operating procedures for the respective ranges.

“It was such an honor to observe our service members engage in their mission readiness activities and I have so much joy and pride to see our own CNMI men and women in action,” the governor said. “I salute them for their service to our country and wish them continued safe journey.”