Pacific Islanders Ask U.S. Military to not Use Pagan Island for Target Practice

Saturday, May 18, 2013
(photo: Save Pagan Island)

An ecologically rich and diverse island in the Pacific is being threatened with destruction by the U.S. military, according to advocates trying to stop planned live-fire exercises.


The controversy centers on Pagan Island, part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), which is itself made up of 14 islands, three of which are inhabited (Saipan, Tinian and Rota). The CNMI was established in 1978 and is, for all intents and purposes, a colony of the United States.


American forces intend to occupy all of Pagan Island for live-fire training and military exercises. Such actions would disregard “the indigenous rights of Pagan Islanders,” and unleash “devastating environmental impacts,” according to the blog Save Pagan Island.


The island is said to be “one of the most biologically and geologically diverse islands in the archipelago,” where numerous threatened and endangered species reside, as do cows and pigs. It is known for its black sand beaches and active volcano.


In addition to using Pagan as a bomb training target, the Pentagon wants to use its beaches for amphibious-operations training.


Pagan was inhabited for more than 3,000 years, but the population was evacuated during a volcano eruption in 1981. Last year it survived a proposal to be used as a dumping ground for debris from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.

- David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Save Pagan Island

NMD Group: No to Military Activities on Pagan (by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor, Marianas Variety)

NMI Descent Corp. Opposes Military Use of Pagan (by Haidee V. Eugenio, Saipan Tribune)

Final Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Joint Military Training Requirements and Siting Study (Department of the Navy) (pdf)

Japan Tsunami Debris on Pagan Island: Financial Problems May Lead to a Second Environmental Mess (by Alexis Rudd, Scientific American)


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