30 Nov 2014
- By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
THE Marine Forces Pacific is looking at visiting Pagan along with residents as a walkthrough of the proposed training sites.
Marine Forces Pacific executive director retired Maj. Gen. Craig B. Whelden said, “We were invited to join Northern Islanders in a visit to Pagan and we hope to do that in the coming months.”
Whelden said the details are still being worked out.
In their last ad hoc meeting with Pagan residents held at the conference room of the Office on Aging in Chinatown, Marine Forces Pacific’s Defense Policy Review Initiative Planning Group Operations Officer Tim Robert agreed to an idea of a walkthrough of the sites on Pagan with the residents.
He said they would consider walking with the residents and show them the sites where they intend to do their trainings.
Pagan residents raised their concerns with the visiting military officials of the impact of the training to their access to the historical and cultural sites, including sacred sites, fishing grounds and areas where they source herbal medicines.
For his part, Robert explained, “If there are special traditional areas that need to be identified and marked off, those are easily incorporated into a battlefield scenario. That will be identified in our military maps as a ‘no-go’ area.”
The use of the island of Pagan is critical to the military’s filling their training needs as the U.S. pivots to Asia and the Pacific.
Robert said Pagan is a critical piece to the training.
“Tinian cannot meet all the requirements that we have. Pagan alone cannot meet all the training requirements that we have. That is why we have two different sites of training with very distinct differences,” said Robert.
In an earlier report, Whelden said Pagan is the location where they would bring all the elements of training — the run phase of a crawl-walk-run approach.
The crawl phase would be on Guam with the use of small arms for individual weapons qualification.
Tinian is suited for the walk phase where small units will be put together and they train collaboratively.
Pagan is where they put all the elements together — air, sea, and land — like a dress rehearsal for war.
But MARFORPAC has assured that the residents can still access Pagan.
Even as they are setting up their training sites, residents and tourists can still access the island.
“There are lots of opportunities to accommodate plenty of access to Pagan,” said Robert in recent ad hoc meeting with Pagan residents.
In the meantime, the Marine Forces Pacific continues are encouraging Pagan residents and other concerned citizens to provide them inputs as they refine the alternatives for Pagan.
These inputs will be taken into consideration as they work on the environmental impact study.
A draft EIS is scheduled for release by February 2015.
Even as MARFORPAC releases this draft, they will still continue to gather comments from the public before a final draft and a record decision are made.