Editor’s Note: The militarization of New Mexico continues. La Jicarita has long been covering its many components: our nuclear weapons labs, Los Alamos and Sandia; waste disposal sites at WIPP and Waste Management in Eunice; industrial arms corporations like Lockheed Martin; the expansion and “encroachment” of Kirtland Air Force Base into Cibola National Forest; and the Albuquerque Police Department. As Carol Miller reveals in the article below, it’s not just New Mexico that’s seeing this massive expansion; it’s the entire United States—and the world. But she also provides links to the groups across the country that are fighting for transparency and a stop to this land grab. Her article also appeared in Space Alert: Global Network.
By CAROL MILLER, Peaceful Skies Coalition, www.peacefulskies.org
- How many new and expanded military bases is the Pentagon building?
- Why is it so difficult to answer this question?
While the media has paid some attention to global base relocation and expansions around the world, the massive military expansion under way within the US has remained mostly under the radar. There is very little awareness of these efforts beyond the affected communities and regions. Every day there is news of from around the world of the powerful struggles against US occupation by the people of Jeju, Okinawa, Guam, and Hawai’i.
Massive military expansion underway within US – the occupation is global
Less well known than the international fights are the many land base, air, and sea space expansions underway on and over the US itself. Every expansion destroys fragile and important ecosystems, harms protected species, range animals, wildlife and people. In place after place, a handful of community volunteers are scrambling trying to keep up and respond to all of the changes, while federal employees and contractors get paid – by us taxpayers – to endlessly generate more work for the volunteers and often pro bono legal counsel.
The Pentagon has transformed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) into a sham and a shame. NEPA never protects any “environment,” it just tells the public, at great cost, how the Pentagon and its contractors intend to despoil.
There are three key elements of US base expansions: 1) new and expanded land bases, airspace and seaspace; 2) base and military activities on public lands, tribal lands, culturally important indigenous sites; and 3) “encroachment” planning, the least publicized and understood category where the military basically dictates what activities can happen around military bases even on public and private land.
Just a Few of the Communities Fighting Military Expansion
Here is a sample list of communities fighting Pentagon expansion. We are confident there are many more. The goal now is to unite all of these voices into a national movement. NO to expansion, the military must shrink, not continue to metastasize.
Peaceful Skies Coalition, national, US, www.peacefulskies.org/
Not 1 More Acre, Colorado http://www.not1moreacre.net/
Tucson Forward, Arizona http://tucsonforward.com/
Stop the F-35, Vermont http://www.stopthef35.com/
Save Our Valley, Idaho
Safe Skies Coalition, New Mexico
Best for Beaufort, South Carolina,
Citizens of Obeys Reserve, Whidbey Island, Washington http://citizensofebeysreserve.com/
Protect Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park, Washington https://www.facebook.com/protectolypen
Protect NM Bear Mountain, Cibola National Forest, http://www.nmbearmountains.blogspot.com/
Growing a Peaceful Skies Coalition
Peaceful Skies Coalition came together very quickly in response to an emergency. In 2010 all sectors of the region came together to fight a massive takings of airspace by the Air Force over northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The purpose was to “train” Special Operators for house-by-house warfare and their Environmental Assessment clearly stated that they would be practicing spying, tracking people, making very high risk, low altitude night flights and always polluting refueling. This dangerous plan would ruin one of the rare pristine areas remaining in the entire United States. In 2012 the Air Force backed off trying to push through the Low Altitude Training Area (LATA) with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The FONSI was indefensible so the NEPA effort was temporarily shelved while an Environmental Impact Statement was evaluated.
At the same time the LATA EIS was delayed, the Air Force hired Marstell-Day, a defense contractor, to conduct encroachment planning for Cannon AFB. This was the alternate route Cannon has taken to try to circumvent the people who had united to oppose becoming a LATA. The cooptation process is formally referred to as Joint Land Use Studies (JLUS). These activities encompass a process where federal, state, and local governments, the private sector and the military agree how the land around existing bases can be developed or undeveloped now and into the future. Many deals are cut during this process as the military extorts money and promises.
The Pentagon bludgeons underfunded governments with threats to close a base and move the activity somewhere more friendly to a military bootprint. In many states, legislatures budget general funds to bribe the military to keep bases open. States build roads and schools for military dependents and fund state military and base affairs committees as lobbyists to keep base funding a priority.
This map shows the ninety-two (92) regions where a base has finished this long-term planning process as of 2012. Several Joint Land Use Studies are underway right now, one of the largest being the southern New Mexico-El Paso JLUS.
The military lists wind and solar power developments as problems that might potentially interfere with war activities. At the end of a phony stakeholder involvement process, encroachment planning lets the military determine where and how renewable energy can be sited across much of the country.
Southern New Mexico-El Paso Texas Joint Land Use Study
Plans for a very large JLUS currently underway in New Mexico show regional air and land space being carved up by the military and the private sector, despite the fact that most of the areas being carved are public lands. The Pentagon only gives information to the public project by project, intentionally making it very difficult for the public to have a clear picture of the totality of expansions. They do not show adjacent maps for the airspace uses north, east and west.
Utah Joint Land Use Study
Another mega-scale JLUS is taking place right now in Utah. This process will change the land and airbase use patterns in much of the state to military use.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that at an October 24, 2014 public meeting, Chris Robinson, director of operations for the Utah Test and Training Range, said that adding 700,000 acres around the perimeter of the bombing range will create more ground and air space for F-35 pilots to test the aircrafts’ missiles. The public was told of the Pentagon plan to expand the bases by taking adjacent land as “encroachment buffer zones.” F-35 pilots would be able to fire weapons above the new expansion “toward targets on the interior of the Test and Training Range.”
Robinson went on to specifically denounce wind energy development stating, “If someone puts a wind farm there, I’m done testing.” Something like a wind farm, Robinson said, would obstruct the air space around the Test and Training Range and create electronic interference. This situation is upside down. It is the Pentagon that is obstructing energy independence and energy security in order to keep fighting energy wars around the world.
Encroachment planning is a just sanitized way to say military land and sky grab.