Kauai and Niihau endangered

SOURCE: Jon Letman (jonletman@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Proposal for Marine Corps tilt-rotor Osprey basing on Kauai and Niihau.

By Karen Waller on 23 September 2016 for ManTech -

Image above: Danger? What danger? Fleetwide order to Osprey pilots to wave off any landing in a dust cloud they can’t complete within 30 seconds. Needless to say, west Kauai and Niihau are covered in dry red dust and sand. From (http://breakingdefense.com/2015/07/fatal-crash-prompts-marines-to-change-osprey-flight-rules/).

[Jon Letman Note: Please see the below notice which I received from a friend on Oahu this morning. This is a call for feedback on the possible future use of areas on KAUAI and NIIHAU for training with MV-22 OSPREY aircraft and CH-53 and H-1 helicopters. I am still trying to get more information but it appears there is a one-month commenting period starting today (9/23/16) until 10/23/16. This proposal requires immediate attention, careful scrutiny and a strong public response.
Source: The September 23, 2016 issue of The Environmental Notice (State of Hawaii Office of Environmental Control). Thank you for your immediate attention.]

[IB Publisher's Note: This needs to be stopped now. The old Pacific Missile Range Facility is being turned into an active military base step-by-step. Stationing the Aegis missile system and deploying the MV-22 Osprey aircraft at the site are major steps leading to the further full militarization of West Kauai and Niihau. Ultimately this will mean more noise and traffic, years of highway "improvements", new military housing sprawl - as well as the dissolution of an important manifestation of Hawaiian culture still intact in Hawaii on Niihau and Kauai. Terrain-following air routes within the project study area are in the mountain valleys east of Barking Sands (The Napali coast). On Kauai the impact of tourist helicopters is bad enough already - but the addition of military training of the crash prone all-in-one Osprey aircraft will be an environmental and tourist disaster for the otherwise isolated Napali Coast valleys and ridges. If you love Kauai resist this military plan. Fuck the Navy!]

From the Environmental Notice by US Marine Corps

Environmental Assessment (EA) for U.S. Marine Corps Aviation Training in Hawaii.

Commanding Officer Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Box 63002, Kāneohe Bay, HI 96863-3002

Status Comment Period September 23, 2016 – October 23, 2016.
Written comments can be provided by email to NFPAC-Receive@navy.mil or by mail to the agency contact address above.

Environmental assessment the islands of Kauai and Niihau  

Project Manager Environmental Assessment
USMC Aviation Training on Kauai and Niihau
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific
258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134

Karen Waller - Public Relations Flack
ManTech Corporation - "Leading the Convergence of Security and Technology"
420 Stevens Avenue, Suite 300, Solana Beach, CA 92075

The proposed action involves Terrain-Following (TERF) and Confined Area Landing (CAL) training on the islands of Kauai and Niihau, in support of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and CH-53 and H-1 helicopters that are either based at MCBH or transiting through Hawaii.

Two TERF routes currently exist within the project study area: one on Kauai, in the mountain valleys east of Barking Sands; and one on Niihau. On Kauai, there is an existing single-aircraft helicopter landing zone (LZ) at Makaha Ridge, and a 4-aircraft LZ within the TERF route. 

These areas have not been used in recent years by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), which proposes to re-establish their use, and to establish up to four new CAL LZs on the northern end of Niihau.

The proposed action is needed to address a lack of TERF and CAL training areas for USMC tilt-rotor and helicopter aircraft crews in Hawaii. Pursuant to NHPA 36 CFR §800.2(d) and 800.3(b) and (e), MCBH solicits questions or comments on this undertaking and its effects on historic properties.

Members of the public, and members of Native Hawaiian Organizations, who wish to be involved as consulting parties in the NHPA Section 106 process associated with this undertaking must provide written notification (letter or e-mail, with phone contact) within 30 days of the publication of this notice.

Deadly Osprey crash in Hawaii
SUBHEAD: The crash sparked further concern in Okinawa Prefecture over the safety of the tilt-rotor aircraft stationed on the densely populated island.

By Martin Fackler on 18 May 2015 for the Japan Times -

Image above: Debris rises as a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey aircraft, not pictured, makes a hard landing at Bellows Air Force Station near Waimanalo, Hawaii, on Sunday. One marine died in the accident and more than a dozen others were taken to a hospital, U.S. media reported. From original article.

The deadly crash of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Hawaii on Sunday sparked further concern in Okinawa Prefecture over the safety of the tilt-rotor aircraft, 24 of which have been deployed at a controversial U.S. base in the island prefecture.

The Osprey made a hard landing in Hawaii on Sunday, killing one marine and sending 21 other people to hospitals as dark smoke from the resulting fire billowed into the sky.

The injuries ranged from critical to minor, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Capt. Alex Lim said.

The tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but flies like an airplane, had a “hard-landing mishap” at about 11:40 a.m., the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a statement.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, Lim said.

“I’ve renewed my sense of fear that we don’t know when an Osprey flying overhead might go down in a residential area,” Chieko Oshiro, a 61-year-old resident near the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan. Okinawa Prefecture, where the 24 Ospreys are deployed.

Hiroshi Ashitomi, the co-leader of a civic group opposed to the relocation of the Futenma base to a coastal area of the city of Nago on the same island, called the aircraft “defective,” and said they should not be deployed anywhere in Japan.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan has asked the United States to provide information about the crash as soon as possible.

“The government intends to steadily assert its stance to the U.S. side that maximum care should be taken with regard to safety,” Suga said.

Meanwhile, news of the crash sent a shock wave through the Defense Ministry, coming just days after Tokyo and Washington announced that the U.S. military will deploy 10 CV-22 aircraft, the air force’s version of the Osprey, to Tokyo’s Yokota Air Base beginning in 2017.

“The crash occurred at the worst possible time,” a senior ministry official said.

The crash also comes just over a week before Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga plans to visit Hawaii and exchange views with the U.S. state’s governor over base issues.

Onaga, who will visit Hawaii from May 27 before traveling on to the U.S. mainland to press Okinawa’s case in Washington, has vowed to stop the construction of a new air base off Nago’s Henoko district to replace the Futenma base.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is based at Camp Pendleton in California and is in Hawaii for about a week for training. The Osprey was being used for training at Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu at the time of the hard landing.

Kimberly Hynd said she was hiking the popular Lanikai Pillbox Trail and could see three Osprey aircraft performing maneuvers from her vantage point in the hills above Bellows. She noticed them kicking up dirt but then saw smoke and fire. Hynd, who estimated she was 2 to 3 miles (3-5 km) away, didn’t hear the sound of a large crash.

“It looked like they were doing some sort of maneuver or formation — and so I was taking pictures of it because usually you can’t see them that close up,” Hynd said.

Photos and video posted on social media showed flames and deep black smoke emanating from what was described as the crash site.

Ospreys may be equipped with radar, lasers and a missile defense system. Each can carry 24 marines into combat.

Built by Boeing Co. and Bell, a unit of Textron Inc., the Osprey program was nearly scrapped after a history of mechanical failures and two test crashes that killed 23 marines in 2000.

Fierce opposition to Osprey in Okinawa

By Martin Fackler on 1 October 2012 for the New York Times -

Image above: Two Osprey aircraft arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa, this Monday. From original article.

The United States military sent the first batch of a sophisticated but accident-plagued new aircraft to an air base on Okinawa on Monday, going forward with its planned deployment despite unexpectedly fierce opposition by islanders and warnings that any crash could threaten the huge American military presence on the island.

The first six of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the Japanese Defense Ministry said. It said another six of the ungainly-looking aircraft were due to arrive this week at the base, in the center of the crowded city of Ginowan. The United States is counting on the deployment to serve as part of the Obama administration’s plan to increase the American military presence in the region and offset the growing strength of China and a nuclear-armed North Korea.

The Osprey — whose tilting rotors allow it to take off like a helicopter but fly like a fixed-wing aircraft — flies four times as far as the Vietnam-era helicopters it is replacing, putting the more than 15,000 Marines on Okinawa within reach of potential hot spots like Taiwan and a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

The Japanese government has backed the deployment, apparently at least partly out of hopes that it will help deter China’s recently assertive claims to those islands, which Japan controls. The United States Defense Department says it has displayed sensitivity to local feelings by delaying the Osprey deployment as long as possible.

However, both Washington and Tokyo are facing an unusually strong pushback from many of the 1.4 million residents on Okinawa, including a large demonstration and acts of civil disobedience of a sort not seen here in decades. A rally last month drew as many as 100,000 people, the largest anti-base demonstration on the island since a similar-size one that followed the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by three American servicemen in 1995.

On the surface, the outrage has been fueled by concerns about the safety of the aircraft, which had a troubled development and suffered two crashes earlier this year. In the lobby of the Ginowan City Hall, a large display warned of the risks by describing a 1959 crash by an American jet that killed 17 people, including 11 schoolchildren.

But Okinawan political leaders and analysts said the issue had become a lightning rod for deeper grievances over how Washington and Tokyo have imposed what islanders see as an excessive base burden on this tropical island.

Anger has spread beyond those island residents who oppose the base from the left. Even conservatives, who have traditionally backed Japan’s postwar security alliance with the United States, warn that Okinawans could now turn violently against not only Futenma but also the entire American presence.

“Anger has been building up like hot magma beneath the surface, and the Osprey could be what finally causes an eruption,” said Takeshi Onaga, the mayor of Naha, the Okinawan capital, and a member of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party. “If they force the Osprey onto us, this could lead to a collapse of the U.S.-Japan alliance.”

Of course, opposition to the American bases is nothing new in Okinawa, and it remains unclear how far the protesters would actually go.

However, most analysts in Japan and the United States seem to agree that Okinawan anger is reaching levels unseen in recent times. They say this has put the United States in a difficult position. “You cannot let politics dictate what platform you use,” said James Schoff, a former senior adviser on East Asia affairs for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “But in this environment, an accident is going to be like setting a match to a tinderbox.”

Japanese officials say they have tried to allay Okinawan concerns by conducting their own inquiries into the recent crashes, with the inquiries accepting the Pentagon’s findings that pilot error was to blame. During a visit to Tokyo last month, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta signed an agreement to allow the Osprey to fly in Japan with restrictions aimed at ensuring safety.

However, those efforts have failed to appease the island’s deeply rooted anger. With more than half of the 50,000 American military personnel in Japan stationed there, many Okinawans say their island remains a virtual military colony, long after the United States returned it to Japan in 1972. Okinawans say this has led to increased awareness about the discrimination that they say Okinawa has suffered since Japan seized the once-independent kingdom in the 1870s.

The sense of alienated outrage adds to the longstanding anger over Futenma, which has become a symbol of the Japanese failure to ease Okinawa’s burden. Tokyo and Washington still have yet to put into place a 16-year-old deal to relocate the base from Ginowan, which was originally signed in response to the 1995 rape case.

Three years ago, frustrations reached a new high when the left-leaning Yukio Hatoyama, then the prime minister of Japan, raised hopes by promising to move the base off Okinawa, only to renege in the face of domestic and American pressure.

Okinawan emotions remain raw at what was seen as Mr. Hatoyama’s betrayal

Okinawa got a taste of civil disobedience over the weekend, when police officers with riot shields towed more than a dozen vehicles that protesters had used to briefly seal off the Futenma base’s three gates — something opponents say they have not tried before.

“If they impose that dangerous thing on us, then all hell will break loose,” said Satoru Oshiro, 48, a labor union employee who joined a dozen protesters to use two vans to block the base’s Nodake Gate on a recent morning. “Enough is enough.”

See also:
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Ea O Ka Aina: DLNR responsibility for RIMPAC 7/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Oceans4Peace Pacific Pivot Panel 6/18/16
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Ea O Ka Aina: US court RIMPAC Impact decision 4/3/15
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 Impact Postmortem 10/22/1
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Ea O Ka Aina: Unproved Osprey on Kauai 8/21/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
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Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
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KauaiAndrew said...

Ok, this is bad. Our voices must be heard.

Juan Wilson said...

Aloha Kauai Andrew,

Don't forget to comment and write:

Project Manager Environmental Assessment
USMC Aviation Training on Kauai and Niihau
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific
258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134

Karen Waller - Public Relations Flack
ManTech Corporation - "Leading the Convergence of Security and Technology"
420 Stevens Avenue, Suite 300, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Anonymous said...

Figured something like this was coming - we're going to see increased militarization of Kauai as it becomes more like Kaneohe. The expansion of the marine reserve by Obama - after George Bush established the original designation (think he did it for the environment? LOL) with little opportunity for community feedback was the 2nd move. They wanted an excuse to keep Chinese spy boats posing as fishing vessels to have NO legitimate reason for spying on operations. Only way to do that is designate it as a reserve and completely shut it off to ALL fishing (and mining, why would that be, hmmm?), or any visits whatsoever aside from those that get advanced government approval. Look at the other countries that have recently set up other marine reserves - much of it is to block China from resources and/or ability to spy. All part of Obama's "asian pivot". If hillary gets elected, expect this to increase 10 fold as she loves war - iraq, afghanistan, libya, syria, honduras, etc.

Anonymous said...

Almost forgot, making Aegis Ashore operational is absurd. Its placement/angle is poor for intercepting missiles from N Korea - thats why they first put the system on ships (plus interceptors in alaska and wake island I believe), so they could respond to any situation! AA was designed to get around missile defense treaty with russia for deployment in poland and romania. Besides being very ineffective (versus ship based aegis or land based THAAD) to make it operational given the myriad of problems PMRF has (insecure networks and facilities, unreliable power) it would require immense amounts of money to make it reliable 24/7/365 in terms of both infrastructure and staffing. Think about this, AA uses an SM-3 missile and if you have a requirement to launch at any time you need a whole bunch of safety people ready around the clock to make sure the missile is destructed if it goes wild AND to keep base personnel and families safe. Total clown show and cant be done without insane amounts of taxpayer money, while destroying the west side as it exists today.

Juan Wilson said...

Aloha Anonymous,

Nice points about the Aegis system. The PMRF is an Intel gathering operation and a teasing site.

It makes a terrible (an vunerable) naval base. A navy base without a boat dock.

Maybe it's about time again to talk about closing it down.

IB Publisher

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