US Marines don’t need to conduct destructive training in CNMI – court

US Marines undergo weapons training Photo: AFP

The US Marines based in Guam do not need to stage live-fire war games in the neighbouring Northern Marianas, according to a new court ruling.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the Marines could conduct “their required training” outside the CNMI and concluded that, while it may be more convenient for them to have these training facilities closer to Guam, there was no evidence showing it’s necessary.

However the court also rejected a challenge by opponents, Tinian Women Association, Guardians of Gani’, PaganWatch, and the Center for Biological Diversity – represented by Earthjustice – to the Environmental Impact Statement the US Navy had prepared for the relocation of 5,000 Marines from Japan to Guam.

Opponents argued the Navy violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it failed to disclose the impacts of Guam-based Marines training with artillery, mortars, rockets, amphibious vehciles, attack helicopters and warplanes on the islands of Tinian and Pagan.

In ruling for the Navy, the court relied on claims that Marines stationed on Guam do not need to conduct highly destructive training in the CNMI to perform their national security mission.

Tinian is a small island with a population of just over 3,000.

Currently, the only live-fire training conducted there is limited to a sniper target range.

No live-fire training currently takes place on Pagan.

 

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