US Wants to Wage War on This Island— 16 Weeks a Year
US citizens of Tinian, Pagan want Obama to reconsider military plan
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2015 2:20 PM CDT
Tinian island is seen from a U.S. Air Force C-130H, Feb. 6, 2013.   (Wikimedia)
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(Newser) – President Obama may have to choose between keeping a tropical paradise as pristine as ever and seeing it transformed into US military training grounds. The Pentagon is toying with the idea of turning Tinian and Pagan—small US territories in the Northern Mariana Islands—into a place to stage war 16 weeks a year. What locals (who are US citizens) think: Pagan's mayor says the people are 100% against the move, which some equate to an "invasion," the Guardian reports. While Pagan has been uninhabited since a 1981 volcanic eruption, mayor Jerome Aldan says about 50 families aim to return to the 10-mile-long stretch of land. Tinian's 3,000 residents—some of whom own land already leased to the military—could be forced onto a 10-square-mile area. And the plan, which could be put into action by 2017, doesn't just affect people.

Biologist Mike Hadfield describes Pagan as a "biological treasure trove" boasting rare fruit bats and tree snails. A rep for the Marine Corps in the Pacific told the Los Angeles Times last month, "We would protect it like it was our own." (Hadfield's response: "Anyone who believes the US Marines and Navy when they say they'll leave the place better than they found it must be slightly crazy.") The weeks of war games could see major amphibious assaults, ground maneuvers, and the placement of bombing targets on Mt. Pagan. Why here? The next decade will see thousands of Marines relocated to Guam from Okinawa; the Pentagon is scrambling for training sites in the region. Pagan is just 330 miles north of Guam and has been IDed as having beaches big enough for sizable amphibious assaults—though the Times points out the Marines haven't staged such an assault in a combat capacity since 1950. A petition against the plan has garnered more than 110,000 signatures.