January 11 – 14, 2016 – NAVY SEALs COMMANDEER 68 BEACHES, STATE PARKS IN WESTERN WASHINGTON FOR COMBAT TRAINING – AREAS INCLUDE RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS
Update, January 14, 2016 – Navy has confirmed its large-scale plans: See article in Tacoma News-Tribune.
Update January 13, 2016 – Navy has five-year permit from State Parks to conduct military training at Blake Island, Illahee, Scenic Beach, Mystery Bay, and Fort Flagler State Parks. SEALs have been conducting training there since late 2014. The public still didn’t know, and neither did other agencies. Navy claims that “The plan is not being executed” are belied by the start dates depicted in their own slide show, and by emails obtained by Truthout.
January 11, 2016 – Navy commandeers 68 Washington beaches for combat training – Truthout story has details.
Starting mid-January, Navy SEAL teams will be conducting a massive 4-month amphibious landing combat training program at 68+ beaches, state parks and residential coastal areas in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and along western coastal beaches. The activity will continue through mid-April 2016. Training events range from 2 to 72 hours, are to be held from 2 to 24 times per year per site, and in some cases involve mock battles with “realistic” simulated weapons. No NEPA process has been conducted, the public has not been notified, and it appears that most federal, state and local governments and elected officials may also be unaware of the Navy’s plans. This begs the question: what provisions for public safety, wildlife and habitat, and cultural and historic property protection have been made?
An article published today in Truthout by investigative reporter Dahr Jamail, titled “Navy uses US citizens as pawns in domestic war games,” explains the details and contains links to internal documents, including two Navy slide shows (here and here) with color-coded maps of targeted areas showing what types of combat training activities will be held there. From looking at these files, it appears that 2016 is not the first year they’ve been doing this.
The Navy’s hubris is breathtaking.
The West Coast Action Alliance supports training our military. What we object to is doing it in the places where we live, work and recreate, and without our informed consent. We object to the shell games that have passed for public process. We object to the Navy’s apparent contempt for the laws of the land, and to the fact that the military is steadily moving off the millions of acres of land the public has already provided for it to train, in order to practice warfare among us, the very citizens it is supposed to protect.
Three reasons you should be concerned:
1.) These are Navy SEAL kill teams training among civilians without their knowledge or consent. Public safety issues are being ignored. There are rules and specific regulations for military operations off federal property, including requirements to notify local law enforcement and state and local government officials. There are also wildlife disturbance and mortality issues, and cultural/historic property damage issues that are being ignored.
2.) In a post-Patriot Act world, the government has claimed many new policing powers in the name of protecting us from terrorism, often at the expense of civil liberties. But is bringing realistic military combat training to our communities, in some cases using targets that look like soccer moms, really necessary? Also: periodically closing dozens of public areas without due process is neither ethical nor legal.
3.) In a country that spends $2 on the defense industry for every $1 it spends on troops, normalizing fear and practicing war games in civilian communities is a formula for continuous public alarm, hardening of a national war mentality, and skyrocketing levels of tax dollars flowing to the defense industry.
What can you do?
1.) Do not interfere with this military activity, as it could place you in danger.
2.) Forward this information to anyone you know who may be living in or near targeted areas.
3.) The Navy is hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, January 12 in Port Angeles on their pier proposal at Ediz Hook, from 6 pm to 8 pm in the Elks Naval Lodge, 131 E. First St. Although officials are slated to present information, answer questions, and accept written but not oral comments on Port Angeles harbor issues, and although they will probably not discuss this Navy SEALs issue, it is still an opportunity for the public to meet with some of the same Navy officials who have handled (and mishandled) the previous public processes.
4.) Don’t just click “Like” in social media and call it good enough. Contact your local, state and federal government representatives and tell them you oppose letting SEAL kill teams practice on civilian communities. Ask them to insist that the Navy follows laws and regulations on notifying and consulting with government agencies AND THE PUBLIC. And tell them you oppose any closings of public property without due process. Public lands belong to ALL of us.
5.) Never doubt the value of speaking up, even when it feels like nobody’s listening. If only one of us speaks up, it’s a candle in the wind. If a hundred do, it’s a voice. If thousands do, it becomes a roar, and if sustained, it can become a massive political will that can force change for the public good. So keep writing those letters, sharing information, making those calls, casting your votes in elections, bringing it up at public meetings, marching peacefully, holding organized press conferences, compelling candidates for public office at all levels to say where they stand on this, and making your concerns known in public forums such as letters to the editor, opinion pieces, call-in broadcast programs; and finally, ask major media why this topic is receiving so little national press coverage. Don’t depend on a few outspoken people to do the talking for you – your own voice is vital. Take the initiative, learn about the issues in depth, develop your own expertise, and get organized with others of like mind.
It doesn’t have to always be this way, with the military encroaching on quiet communities, national parks, national forests, state parks, private marinas and other civilian public areas when they have so much land already to train on. With your involvement, it won’t be this way.
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