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The US Navy: War Games under Americans' Radar

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During the Bush Administration it continues under Obama the Department of the Navy (DON) divided the coasts and oceans into a series of "testing range complexes" (TRC) driven by five-year plans to conduct warfare exercises. They already conduct these tests in the Atlantic (and recently announced a notice of intent to expand this area), the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific.

Additionally, after the public comment period ends on October 11, 2010, the Navy will conduct a plethora of war exercises along 122,400 nautical miles of air, surface, and subsurface space in Northern California, Oregon, and Western Washington.

To be sure, such testing is in accordance with Title 10, Section 5062 of the US Code that provides:

The Navy shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained combat incident to operations at sea...responsible for the preparation of Naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war...with Integrated Joint Mobilization Plans...to meet the needs of war.

Perhaps people take war games for granted because such testing is provided for in this Code (fewer conspiracy theories if information is public?). But this information is not trickling down to the people it will affect. If anything, DON appears cagey about how it informs the public about its intentions.

Treat 'em rough...and tell 'em nothing

Rosalind Peterson is president and co-founder of Agriculture Defense Coalition (ADC). In a recent Raising Sand Radio interview (www.raisingsandradio.org) she said, "In Mendocino County (CA) there was a one-by-one inch ad in local papers of the smallest communities that the Navy could find in northern California, Oregon, and Washington. In Oregon they advertised in tiny communities with a total of about 250 people each. They didn't publicize in the capital, Bend, or Portland or other, larger cities at all."

Aides in California Senator Barbara Boxer's office seemed to know little, if anything, about the Northwest Training Research Complex (NWTRC) when ADC's Rosalind Peterson contacted them. A spokesperson said Boxer would "look into it."

Peterson said, "If Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Thompson knew about it they did not notify their constituents along California's northwest coast."

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WAR GAMES

Pacific Northwest

The Navy acknowledges that some testing is highly classified therefore the tests are not shared with the public at all. Its 1,000 page NWTRC Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) notes that the tests conducted off the Pacific Northwest coast will "take" an estimated 11 million marine mammals, about 2.7 million per year. A "take" is "a significant disruption in marine mammal foraging, breeding, and other essential behaviors"; death is implied.

The "take" for decimated fish and bird life and the life that supports them is not mentioned. Neither is the "take" for civilians in the zone conducting commercial and recreation enterprises during tests. Beyond directions to websites for "Long-range advance notice of scheduled activities" local fishing, cruise ships, boating, and daily aviation passenger carriers passing through test areas will not be informed on the days testing occurs.

These war games include "a total of 7,588 sorties...[of] fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ("drones "), and naval vessels conducting exercises for 6,940 hours each year"1 with mid- and high frequency sonar, underwater constructions and detonations, bombing, missile and torpedo missions with arsenals from Hellfire missiles to drones and the use of air-, land- and water-borne "hazardous materials" (defined as solid, liquid, semi-solid, or gaseous "substances that pose a substantial hazard to human health or the environment by virtue of their chemical or biological properties").

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The list "not exhaustive" of chemical byproducts from underwater detonations, explosives, degradation products, failure and low-order detonations, and components of training materials is extensive. Hazardous materials discharged overboard beyond 12 nautical miles include spent acid, alkali ("carefully neutralize, dilute and flush overboard..."); solvents; water with corrosion inhibitors; aircraft washdown waste water; and submarine missile tube waste water that includes heavy metals and cyanide.

Physical debris includes live and expended ordnance and casings, sunken vessels, and blasted underwater construction.

Vessels, aircraft, and military equipment used in these activities carry and use hazardous materials with directives to manage the storage, use, and proper disposal of materials that may be harmful to the environment.

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Susan Galleymore is the author of Long Time Passing: Mothers Speak about War and Terror, sharing the stories of people in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and U.S. [Pluto Press 2009]. She is also host and producer of Raising Sand Radio (more...)
 

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