Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 16 Dec 2017 12am






    Sunday, December 17, 2017-9:12:54P.M.






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Military operations on Tinian mutually beneficial to military, community, Marine official says

THE proposal to prepare Tinian for expanded military operations is beneficial to both the U.S. military and the civilian population.

Visiting Marine Aircraft Group 12, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 Commanding Officer Howard C. Eyth III, commenting on the possibility of having a base on Tinian, replied, “I certainly think there exists a great deal of mutual benefit to expanding U.S. military operations on Tinian.”

Marine Aircraft Group 12, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 Marines pose for a group photo following the successful landing of a KC-130J Hercules aircraft on Baker Runway at the North Field on Tinian last year during Exercise Geiger Fury.  Photo by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

He said from infrastructure and quality of life improvements with their associated, positive economic and social impacts for local communities to training opportunities and broadened cultural awareness for service members, “the potential is indeed tremendous.”

Eyth was among the guest spearkers during the Liberation Day festivities on Saipan on July 4.

Meanwhile, in an earlier interview with Variety, Marine Forces Pacific executive director Craig Whelden said they plan to put facilities on the Department of Defense-leased area that can accommodate 1,500 personnel.

Whelden said they may set up a “kind of an expeditionary style base.”

As the U.S. pivots to Asia and the Pacific, the military has proposed building live-fire ranges and training areas on Tinian and Pagan.

For Eyth, “What I hope to see in the future is a strengthening of ties between the military and the local government, business, and the community at all levels, by way of growing relationships which become truly habitual as a result of exercise standardization.”

He said the result of having a number of established, routinely held exercises on Tinian “conceivably could also include the introduction of a small number of permanently assigned military personnel to the island.”

As to the ongoing National Environmental Policy Act process for the proposed ranges and training areas in the Northern Marianas, the proposal was to use the DoD-leased lands on Tinian

The DOD leases two-thirds of Tinian’s public lands and the lease will expire in 2033. The military can unilaterally extend the lease for another 50 years to 2083. In 1994, the CNMI and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a leaseback agreement for a portion of the leased public property for small agricultural and grazing activities, leaving the military with a total of 14,651 acres or 5,929 hectares.

Promise of a base since the early 1970s

The promise of a military base was made four decades ago, prior to the Covenant negotiations.

The U.S. had been looking for a fall-back base for the Third Marine Division.

In Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Thomas Hinman Moorer’s Feb. 28 letter to the Secretary of Defense, Moorer referred to a DoD memorandum indicating a request for approval of construction and programming on initial segments of the Tinian base.

Further, Moorer referred to the memo that stated the anticipated inclusion of the Tinian development project in the fiscal year 1974 budget and DoD’s request for the Joints Chief of Staff’ opinion on whether or not a short programming delay in the development of a joint military base on Tinian would jeopardize national security.

Further, Moorer commented “the Joints Chiefs of Staff continue to believe that the near-term development of Tinian is necessary to the security interests of the United States.”

Moorer also said the early development of a joint U.S. base on Tinian was the most advantageous method of satisfying near-term military requirements.

During the political status negotiations in Hawaii, DoD conveyed to Micronesian negotiators that it had designs for Tinian.

Tinian Mayor’s Office Chief of Staff Don Farrell earlier explained to Variety that the whole reason behind the Covenant negotiations was to create a fall-back base for the Third Marine Division in Okinawa.

The base, Farrell said, was being considered to accommodate B-52 bombers that the U.S. would need to hit Vietnam and the base would be a joint service training base.

Farrell said at the conclusion of the Covenant negotiations, the U.S. had pulled out of Vietnam and decided not to fund the construction of the base.