U.S Marines start arriving on Tinian for exercise - 07/09/2012
3:43 pm GMT+12, 07/09/2012, Northern Mariana Islands
Some 65 U.S. Marines based in Okinawa arrived on Tinian last night and an additional 150 Marines, along with Japanese Self-Defense Force troops, will follow early next week for a historic joint training-almost 70 years since forces from these two nations fought against each other on Tinian.
Tinian, one of the main islands of the CNMI, was the launching pad for the two atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, putting a decisive end to World War II.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz and his chief of staff, Don Farrell, separately said yesterday that a C-130 carrying an estimated 65 U.S. Marines from Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan landed last night on Tinian's West Field for the military exercise. From there, they moved to North Field.
Dela Cruz and Farrell said the first group will set up their cantonment or camp site, in preparation for next week's military training.
Farrell said between Sept. 10 and 12, about 15 amphibious tractors carrying some 150 U.S. Marines “and possibly Japanese Self-Defense Force” troops will also arrive on Tinian.
“I said 'possibly' because the Japanese troops may arrive by plane. The important thing is, they will be arriving on Tinian,” he said.
Dela Cruz said he is glad that the U.S. Department of Defense, which leases two-thirds of Tinian lands, is now conducting training exercises on the island, not only to help boost Tinian's economy but also allow the island to have a new role in national defense albeit for training purposes.
“This is not just any kind of training. This is history in the making because we will be having U.S. and Japanese troops training alongside each other,” he said. During the war, these two forces fought each other on the same island.
Dela Cruz also said that “special forces” will take part in the exercises, including Navy SEALs and rangers. “I believe the training scenario will be a hostage rescue operation.”
Since Dela Cruz was elected to office, he has been calling on the U.S. Department of Defense to use its leased lands on Tinian. “I'm happy things are happening now.”
Beginning Monday, Tinian's North Field will be closed for the military exercise. This will be the first joint exercises on Tinian by the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Farrell said this will be called the Mariana Islands Complex Certification Exercise or Certex.
Tinian is hosting only small fraction of the estimated 2,200 U.S. Marines and sailors that are taking part in a military exercise in Guam and the CNMI this month.
This month's training exercises on Tinian follows Exercise Geiger Fury 2012 in May, the largest military exercise the CNMI had seen in years involving some 200 U.S. military personnel led by Marine Aircraft Group-12 out of Iwakuni, Japan.
Another round of MAG-12 exercises is set for November to December.
SOURCE: SAIPAN TRIBUNE/PACNEWS