This slideshow will give you a quick overview of the U.S. military's plan to take our islands and our waters and use them for bombing ranges.
Additional slideshows on the News, Comments and Documents pages give a fuller understanding of the issues.
The Alternative Zero Coalition is made up of community organizations opposed to the U.S. military's plans to use the Mariana Islands for destructive live-fire ranges. We reject the numbered "alternatives" outlined in their proposals. Instead we support our own "Alternative Zero" - use of our limited lands and waters for positive, productive purposes.
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In 2010 the U.S. military began a move to turn the Marianas into the world's largest live-fire training range. Their strategy was to present a series of apparently independent proposals that worked to hide the cumulative impacts from the public and local governments. There are five main proposals. More may be coming.
In 2010, by approving their own MIRC proposal, the U.S. Navy took control of 500,000 square miles of ocean around the Marianas for live-fire exercises and weapons testing. Then in 2015, they approved their own MITT proposal, increasing the area to 984,000 square miles. This new range allows live-fire above, on and below the sea, including high-impact underwater weapons and deadly sonar that kills fish, sea turtles, whales, dolphins and porpoises.
The MITT plan also increased the rate of explosive bombing of No'os (aka Farallon de Medinilla or FDM) by nearly 300 percent - from 2,150 bombs per year to over 6,000 bombs per year. It also authorized damage to the surrounding reef, the largest in Micronesia, including areas of endangered coral reef.
On Guahan, local activists fought the Navy's Guam and CNMI Military Relocation proposal that would take thousands of acres of land and historic and sacred sites, and scrape away acres of Guahan's coral reef. In September, 2015, the Navy approved a scaled-down plan that created a new Marine Base, a new live-fire training range complex and a separate hand-grenade range.
The beautiful and serene island of Pagan, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is one of two additional islands slated for destruction by the U.S. Military that intends to unilaterally take and use as live-fire ranges. Pagan has been inhabited for thousands of years. Families who have lived on Pagan for generations will lose their home.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' CNMI Joint Military Training (CJMT) proposal now under consideration seeks the entire island of Pagan for the military's highest level of live-fire range. This includes tank maneuvers, amphibious landings, land mines, grenades launchers, rockets, mortars, missles, shelling from ships, and air-dropped bombs up to 1000 pounds.
The CJMT proposal also intends put a live-fire range on the northern 2/3 of Tinain under lease to the military. This will destroy the peace of the 3,000 people living in the southern 1/3 and put them at risk of death and injury from stray ordnance and contaminated soil and water. Tinian's tourism based economy will be devastated when access to northern beaches and historic sites is lost.
Hundreds came to public hearings on Saipan and Tinian to oppose the bombing ranges. Many expressed outrage that the military can unilaterally take and destroy their lands without their consent. There were grave concerns over health and safety risks to the public, the impact on the environment and wildlife, the loss of freedom of movement by sea and air, and the severe impact of bombing ranges on the tourism industry.
In fact, using Tinian for a bombing range is in direct violation of the terms of the Tinian lease agreement as it would certainly degrade and destroy land. The lease was provided to the military at their request for purposes of building a miltary base. The Tinian people were relocated to the south. They were promised base jobs, education for their children in base schools, use of the hospital and other benefits. The base was never built.
The U.S. Air Force's Divert Training and Exercises proposal seeks to take land around Saipan International Airport and/or Tinian's commercial airport for purposes of training and support of live-fire exercises. The Air Force refuses to consider the logical place for the Divert Airfield — the former WWII airfields on Tinain shown here that are under lease to the military, citing the rennovation costs as the reason.
The military's budget is 4,463 times greater than the CNMI's. Yet the Air Force says it cannot afford to rennovate the WWII airfields on Tinian. Instead, they plan to take valuable public land around the Saipan and Tinian commercial airports. This is essentially asking the CNMI, one of the poorest places in the U.S., to subsidize their Divert Airfield project.
The sentence above speaks to the intent of the Covenant Agreement in regards to land. It documents that the negotiators of the agreement that created the new U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, understood and appreciated that the Chamorro and Refaluwasch people need, depend upon and cherish their very limited land. It instructs the United States to recognize and respect this in the future.