Sunday, August 27, 2006

US Military Exercises in the Philippines

RP, US Marines to hold joint exercises

By Joel Guinto

Last updated 06:53pm (Mla time)


SOME 3,000 Filipino and American Marine troops will hold amphibious exercises in various points in the northern Philippines in October, a Philippine military spokesman said Tuesday.

The training, dubbed Philippine Bilateral Exercises (Phiblex), is aimed at "enhancing interoperability" between the two military forces, said Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan of the Philippine Marine Corps.

Some 800 Philippine Marines and 200 others from the Navy and the Air Force will train with some 2,000 US counterparts at Fort Magsaysay in Laur town, Nueva Ecija province, Crow Valley in Capas town, Tarlac province, and the Marine Base in Ternate town, Cavite province, Caculitan said.

"It [Phiblex] aims to enhance interoperability of the Army, Navy, and Marines with an allied country," Caculitan told reporters at the Camp Aguinaldo general headquarters in Quezon City."

But it's more of a Marine heavy exercise, amphibious exercise," Caculitan added.

When asked if the training would focus on counter-terrorism, like past exercises between the US and the Philippines, Caculitan said: "Not really directed at [terrorism]… This one is basically improving interoperability."

He said the joint training would run for "more or less two weeks.""We are still coming up with a final planning conference. Everything depends on the planning process," he added.

Next week, Filipino and American naval forces will kick-start a week-long joint training against terrorism and transnational crimes dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2006 in the northern provinces of Zambales and La Union.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Military Pollution in South Korea

“Environment Minister Lee Chi-beom has revealed his concern that the film may turn public opinion in favor of environmental groups.”

August 4, 2006

(Seoul) - With the success of the recently-released film "The Host," environmental organizations in South Korea are upbeat that their ongoing protests over pollution at U. S. military bases will gain support from those who see the dangers of toxic chemicals in the movie.

Bong Joon-ho's film, which broke the 4-million-viewer mark just a week after its release, presents a monster created by toxic fluid poured into Seoul's Han River on the orders of a U. S. Army boss. The idea for the monster originated from the case of Albert McFarland, a civilian mortician of the U. S. Forces Korea who ordered the dumping of formaldehyde into the river in 2000, but was later released on bail.

Green Korea, a leading environmental body, geared up its street demonstrations on the occasion of the movie's release."

Even after that toxic case in 2000, the U. S. military is returning its bases without solving the pollution problem," Koh Ji-seon, a member of the organization in charge of the U. S. military transfer case. said.

"This movie seems to be drawing attention from people who have not known about this issue," she said, adding her organization will use the movie in its publicity.

The South Korean and U. S. militaries have agreed that the latter will transfer 59 of its closed bases to South Korea by 2008. The U. S. military will leave the bases to the care of Korea despite concerns they may be contaminated by toxic chemicals.

Environmental organizations say the deal is irresponsible and breaches the Status of Forces Agreement, which governs the rights and responsibilities of 30,000 U. S. troops stationed here.

The movie expected to set a new audience record, however, seems to be a headache for some government officials. Environment Minister Lee Chi-beom has revealed his concern that the film may turn public opinion in favor of environmental groups.

"Honestly I'm concerned with the monster that came from the toxic material from the U. S. military," Lee said in an informal luncheon meeting with reporters earlier this week. Other ministers also seemed to be afraid of watching the movie in public, he added.

The director has explained his movie is a fantasy and human drama, rather than a political satire, and that the depiction of the U. S. military improperly disposing of the toxic fluid was a formality in a monster movie that has to show the background of the monster's birth."

It may not be able to escape such interpretation, but in a broad sense, it is the basic and traditional approach that a genre movie uses political satire (in creating its monster)," he said in his essay to be published in the fall edition of literary journal Asia.

The movie revolves around the five-member family, which runs a kiosk alongside Seoul's Han River, whose life is changed when the monster shatters the tranquility of the riverside and takes away the family's only daughter.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Covering Up Sexual Assault is the Pentagon's Official Policy

Published on Monday, August 21, 2006 by the Guardian/UK
Their Bodies as Weapons
Rapes in conflict zones result from the idea that violence is erotic, and it pervades the US military
by Robin Morgan

When news surfaced that four GIs allegedly stalked, gang-raped and killed an Iraqi woman, the US tried to minimise this latest atrocity. Now article 32 hearings - the military equivalent of a grand jury - have ended at Camp Liberty, a US base in Iraq. In September, a general will rule whether the accused should be court-martialled. The defence already pleads post-traumatic stress disorder: in four months preceding the crime, 17 of the accused GIs' battalion were killed.

The victim's name was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Abeer means "fragrance of flowers". She was 14 years old. According to a statement by one of the accused, the soldiers first noticed her at a checkpoint. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky, they changed into civvies and burst into Abeer's home. They killed her mother, father and five-year-old sister and "took turns" raping Abeer. Finally, according to the statement, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and set them on fire. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings.

The US military is now a mercenary force. In addition to hired militias and "independent contractors", we have a draft: a poverty draft. That's why the army is disproportionately comprised of ethnic minorities seeking education, healthcare, housing. But there are other perks. Teenage males, hormones surging, are taught to confuse their bodies with weapons, and relish it.

One training song (with lewd gestures) goes: "This is my rifle, this is my gun; one is for killing, one is for fun." The US air force admits showing films of violent pornography to pilots before they fly bombing raids. Feminist scholars have been exposing these phallocentric military connections for decades. When I wrote The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism, I presented evidence on how the terrorist mystique and the hero legend have the same root: the patriarchal pursuit of manhood. How can rape not be central to the propaganda that violence is erotic - a pervasive message affecting everything from US foreign policy to "camouflage chic" and glamorised gangsta styles?

Atrocity fatigue has set in. Wasn't rape a staple of war long before the Iliad? Weren't thousands of women and girls raped and killed in death camps in the former Yugoslavia? And weren't early reports of gang rape attacks from another small troubled country ignored? It was merely about women, and hardly anyone had heard of the place: Rwanda.

Yet the Pentagon is shocked. Have we already forgotten Abu Ghraib? Photographs of sexually tortured men leaked, but those of abused women are still classified for fear of greater outrage. So many military rapes have occurred in Okinawa, Korea, and the Philippines that feminists organised movements in protest. Incidents keep occurring near US bases, including hundreds of reported rapes of female soldiers by their fellow GIs.

In 1998, a landmark United Nations decision recognised rape as a war crime. The international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia issued indictments and convictions on sexual violence grounds.

Sometimes, a few "nice American guys" are found guilty. Then all returns to normal. They are sacrificed to save those who train them to do what they did, and to save the careers of politicians who sermonise obscenely about "moral values" while issuing moral waivers.

Robin Morgan's new book, Fighting Words: A Toolkit for Combating the Religious Right, is published next month; she is a co-founder of The Women's Media Center, where a longer version of this article first appeared

© Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006


Monday, August 21, 2006

Governor Must Represent Guam, Not the Feds

from The Marianas Variety

A couple of weeks ago I accompanied Lt. Gov. Moylan on a fact finding trip to Okinawa in anticipation of the Marines move. On this trip were several Senators and village Mayors as well.It was our intention to fill in the information void, or shed light on what we believe is an information blackout, about the full details of this big move.

Many of us are concerned that Governor Camacho has not taken a sufficient lead in devising a comprehensive plan to address the glaring needs of the community. Some of us also felt that not enough urgency has been devoted to the effort to outline the civilian community’s needs and to aggressively and immediately pursue the resources to address these needs. Many of us feel like we are being washed along on this gigantic tsunami with no one steering the ship of state.While Governor Camacho has stated we need approximately $2.6 billion dollars of infrastructure improvements to maintain the quality of life in our community, I find it very troubling that he has divided this request into two parts.

One part of about 945 million dollars is his preliminary request,
while the rest is left out there somewhere to be funded at some unstated future point. It seems incredibly short sighted not to fully state our community’s needs up front, and to demand that they be met as part of the Marines move to Guam.

Instead of working with us to define our true needs and to seek our support to get the most and best of our community, the Governor seems to be pulling in the opposite direction. Governor Camacho seems to be doing all he can to “manage” information so he can appear to be a “good boy” to the federal government. He seems to want to be perceived as a good federal government team player while no one is going to bat for our community. You do not have to take my word about this, you can read it for yourself in the Governor’s own words.

Here is a letter dated July 7th he recently wrote to Delegate Bordallo, whining about our visit to Okinawa. Here it is:

“Hafa Adai! As Governor, I stand by my commitment that the Government of Guam recognizes the U.S. Department of Defense’s role in brokering the agreement on the realignment of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in the Western Pacific. You and I committed on behalf of the people of Guam our support to bring 8,000 Marines to Guam over the next 6 years to complement the mission of the U.S. military in our region.I am concerned about recent media reports that the Lieutenant Governor of Guam is leading a contingent of Senators of the 28th Guam Legislature and Village Mayors to visit Okinawa prior to the completion of the negotiations of the Alliance Transformation Realignment. The proposed visit to Japan is expected to take place on Monday, July 10th, 2006. Given our commitments, this action is counter to protocols we had established in partnership to ensure the integrity of the ongoing negotiations of the U.S./Japan Agreement. In light of this development, I have asked the U.S. Department of Defense for their guidance on how to approach this matter locally.The Civilian-Military Task Force, which I established through Executive Order last month, is the entity on Guam currently involved in the strategic planning process to accommodate military expansion by addressing various infrastructure and quality of life concerns shared by local and military segments of our community.

The Task Force is responsible for the coordination of future visits to the proposed U.S. Marine Base sites in Guam and their counterpart military installations in Japan to gather additional information to further assist in the planning process.As adjustments are being made to the Guam Master Plan currently with the U.S. Pacific Command, such actions for our elected leaders to engage Japanese government officials are counter to the discussions Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asia and pacific Affairs Richard Lawless and U.S. Pacific Command Deputy Commander Lt. General Daniel Leaf had with us in Guam and the direction given at that time on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense.While I agree that we all must be responsive to the desires or our constituency to understand more about the military expansion into Guam, I believe that it must be done in a manner that meets the needs of all parties involved.Our partnership is critical in ensuring successful outcomes for the greater good of the people of Guam and the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces expected to be deployed here in the future.”

So in short, Governor Camacho believes we have to subordinate our interests to that of the U.S. military and the federal government.

I beg to differ. Both our community and the military must give equal treatment to both our interests. Only in this way can we both prosper.

This is a lesson our Governor must learn – he represents us not the federal government.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Marines Practice Urban Warfare in Guam

Statement by a member of the Guam Commission for Decolonization on the recent Marine Urban warefare training that took place on Guam:

At around 3:00 PM or a little after, my watch, today August 13, Sunday, there was a tremendous explosion coming from the direction of Tumon Bay. I was at the Harmon Cliffline. I was about a mile away from the explosion, but it was loud. I can imagine the noise it made at the GMH with all the people at thehospital. I understand the explosive training by the Marines was to take place at the old GMH area with all those old buildings still there in disrepair.

My question is who in the hell permitted the Marines explosive training to take place there? The GMH and the residential areas are so close to the old GMH area, you have just got to bean idiot of a leader to have approved this training there.

The area belongs to the Chamorro Land Trust. Was there apermission from CLT for the Marines to use the area? Did the Mayor of Tamuning know and approved the training explosion to take place? Did the Marines submit a Section 106 compliance notification, as required by federal law, to Guam Historic Preservation Office for this training?

The Military here on Guam has a lot of areas under their control to accommodate the Marines for such training. They control 1/3 of Guam, for crying out loud. This is a health and safety issue. An environmental issue. People could have been hurt by the very loud explosion. This explosive training could have taken place at Andersen South, or at South Finegayan, or at Northwest Field, or at Orote, Naval Station. Why Ipao Point? To show off?

If this administration have anything to do with this, it was a really bad decision, for lack of a better word. The people of Tamuning and GMH is owed an apology. If it was the fault of one of the directors, it's indicative of the lack of intelligence and common sense of some in this administration. If the HomeLand Security's knew and allowed this training to take place to show off to the public the capabilities of theMarines, they are so naive and irresponsible.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hawai'i Still at Risk From Old Munitions

Hawai'i still at risk from old munitions

By William Cole
Honolulu Advertiser
August 13, 2006

Ka'u Paio was digging in a garden at Waimea Middle School in 2002 on the Big Island with other students when the earth yielded something unexpected— a live hand grenade.

In 1999, a stretch of beach in Makaha was closed down after a boy found a grenade, its pin still in place, buried in the sand.

Seventeen-year-old James O'Hare was killed in 1971 when a 40 mm grenade exploded as he attempted to dismantle it. Police had said the youth found the explosive at the military's Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.

In Hawai'i, unexploded ordnance, or UXO, is part of the landscape — the consequence of a defensive buildup pre-World War I and the massive rush to respond in World War II.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Protests in South Korea

In S. Korea, a Stubborn Stand Against U.S. Military Presence
By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 21, 2006; A20

DAECHURI, South Korea -- Here in the marshy heartland of the Korean Peninsula, the rabble-rousing rice farmers of this tiny village are engaged in their own little war against the U.S. military.

With American forces in the midst of their largest regional realignment in decades, the farmlands of Daechuri have been condemned to make room for the expansion of a nearby U.S. base. While about half the residents have quietly accepted a lucrative cash-for-land deal being offered by the South Korean government, a core group of about 70 holdouts have rebuffed all efforts to buy them out.

Their refusals to make way for the base -- or give in to what many of the farmers are calling "American bullying" -- have won them instant hero status among some South Korean labor unions and student groups. Over the past several weeks, protesters have held the largest anti-American demonstrations in South Korea in four years, turning Daechuri into a symbol of their struggle to drive U.S. troops out of the country.

"We are sick of being treated like America's servants!" said Cho Sun Yeh, a fiery 90-year-old rice farmer. Her first home in the area was bulldozed to make room for a U.S. base during the 1950-53 Korean War. After the uneasy truce that left the peninsula divided into capitalist South and communist North, Cho and her husband built a new house a few hundred yards from the base's barbed wire fences.

It is from this home that Cho and her extended family of 17 are refusing to budge. "I am thankful for what the U.S. did to save us from the communists back then, but that was a long time ago and we have paid them enough thanks," she said. "I gave my land up once already, and I am not about to do it again. It is time for the U.S. to leave us alone."

The last stand at Daechuri underscores the significant hurdles that analysts say could set back by years the Pentagon's broad plan to realign American forces in the Pacific.

State-of-the-art military technologies and shifting geopolitical concerns have convinced the Pentagon that it can do with fewer troops and bases in East Asia's largest host countries, South Korea and Japan. In some respects, that strategy is giving anti-American groups in both nations a dose of what they want. In South Korea, plans call for a 33 percent reduction in the U.S. force, to 25,000 troops, and a consolidation of 104 widely scattered military installations into 10 regional hubs by 2008. In Japan, home to more than 50,000 American troops, 8,000 of the 18,000 Marines now based on Okinawa island will be relocated to the American territory of Guam by 2014.

But even as U.S. troops disappear from some communities, their presence is set to increase in others, where they are hardly being welcomed with open arms. Vocal anti-American activists are seizing the moment, calling for protracted demonstrations, insisting the United States pay a larger portion of the realignment costs and supporting politicians who favor even greater troop and base reductions.

"Both Korea and Japan are facing a similar situation," said Seong Ho Sheen, an international relations professor at Seoul National University. "Anti-U.S. anger and resentment are always there, but now you find these groups seeking to use the realignment to bring those sentiments to the surface in both countries."

Sheen and others say demonstrators' efforts have so far met with limited success. Although the protests in and around Daechuri are South Korea's largest in years, they have yet to generate national momentum and still pale in comparison with the wave of anti-American demonstrations that swept the country in 2002. Then, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets after two teenage girls were run down and killed by a U.S. armored vehicle. The vehicle's two crew members were both acquitted of negligent homicide in a U.S. military court.

Recent opinion polls indicate that most South Koreans and Japanese still do not think it is time for the U.S. military to pack its bags entirely. Yet Asian and U.S. officials concede that the realignment is causing new friction -- particularly at the grass-roots level.

In Japan, the U.S. troop presence has been better tolerated than in most other host countries in Asia or Europe -- in part because the size and role of the country's own forces are limited by Japan's pacifist post-World War II constitution. But opposition has been fierce on a local level, particularly in Okinawa, home to the largest concentration of U.S. troops in the country.

That has been due in some part to crimes committed by U.S. servicemen stationed there and a sense that the American military operates above Japanese law. But opinion polls have shown that the huge costs Japan will bear as a result of the U.S. realignment are now generating resentment on a national level.

In recent weeks, Washington and Tokyo have reached broad agreement that Japan would shoulder nearly 60 percent -- or $6 billion -- of the cost of moving 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam. But in late April, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard P. Lawless shocked Japan by telling reporters in Washington that Tokyo's ultimate cost for the U.S. troop realignment could reach $26 billion.

"This used to be an Okinawa-only issue," said Teruo Onishi, an activist who helped organize a massive but peaceful demonstration against the U.S. military in Okinawa in March. "But now that the rest of Japan is seeing the huge amount we are being asked to pay, people are wondering whether it's really fair for Japanese tax dollars to fund the U.S. military's strategic objectives."

As part of the realignment in South Korea, the U.S. military will return 66 percent of the land it now occupies, including prime real estate in the heart of Seoul, the capital. Residents near the land vacated so far have expressed satisfaction with the drop in congestion and noise from military vehicles.

Still, officials in Seoul and Washington remain mired in tough negotiations over demands by South Korea's Environmental Ministry that the United States cover the costs of extensive and costly reforestation and cleanup.

U.S. officials in South Korea have declined to comment publicly on the anti-American demonstrations. In a statement, David Oten, a U.S. military spokesman in Seoul, said the United States remained "fully committed to completing consolidation as quickly as possible."

But the situation has tried the patience of some U.S. lawmakers. Last October, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) blasted South Korea for "historical amnesia." In a Senate hearing, Clinton added that South Koreans were losing their "understanding of the importance of our position there and what we have done over so many decades to provide them the freedom that they have enjoyed."

South Korean groups supporting the U.S. military presence have criticized the administration of President Roh Moo Hyun for taking too soft a line on the protesters at Daechuri, which is set to be absorbed by Camp Humphreys, the base that will become the new American command center in South Korea. The Seoul government has condemned violent protesters and made several dozen arrests. But it has also said that in a democracy, all voices, including anti-American ones, must be heard.

The holdouts have refused all incentives to leave -- including buyouts of about $170,000 per acre. Authorities say they plan to evict the farmers by force if they do not leave by October.
Farmer Cho says she will be waiting.

"This is my home," she said. "My memories are here, my life is here. I should not have to give that up for anyone."

Special correspondents Joohee Cho in Seoul and Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

No Nukes in Asia and the Pacific

Activists Gather at Japan Summit to Seek Nuke Ban
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — Debbie Quinata, maga’haga of I Nasion Chamoru, joined grassroots activists and peace delegates from around the world, who gather in Nagasaki, Japan for the 2006 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs to tackle ways of eliminating nuclear weapons in Asia.

The conference, which opened Friday and ended Sunday, was intended to create a worldwide movement to defend each country’s Constitution, oppose U.S. military bases and step up campaign for a nuke-free region.

The conference was timed with the commemoration of the United States’ 1945 bombing of Nagasaki, which was believed to have destroyed the city and killed 73,000 people.

“We gather to remember the scared and poisoned generations to whom those dark days gave birth. We unite in the shadow—of two days long past, lifted by the strength of those victims too strong to be victims forever. We are here because of the survivors — the survivors who instead of fighting a war for vengeance use their past as a rallying call for peace throughout the world,” Quinata said in a speech delivered at the summit.

She told the conference delegates that the increased military buildup on Guam will further put the island in a situation, in which it would become “a pawn in the political and military intrigue of a nation it never chose to join.”Quinata lambasted the Guam business community for dismissing the impact of increased military buildup on Guam. Guam is expecting the influx of 8,000 Marines and 10,000 dependents, who will be relocated from Okinawa, Japan as part of the US-Japan forces realignment agreement.

The military expansion, Quinata said, will turn the small island into “the largest, most forward U.S. military installation in the Pacific theatre.”

She also mentioned reports substantiating the existence of toxic elements left by the U.S. military as a result of storage of chemical agents and down-winder’s radiation and PCB-contamination in the waters.“While a brave few want a real and tangible say in the military’s plans for Guam, members of the business community maintain that all the misfortunes of militarization will easily be washed away by the fortunes only a select few will earn,” she said.

Organizers said the annual world conference “is tasked to significantly change the balance of power in the world in favor of the anti-nuclear weapons and peace movement.”

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Trial Begins for Navy Sailor

Trial begins for Navy sailor
By Valerie Lynn M. Maigue
Pacific Daily News

Navy sailor Doyle Lamont Perry was "at the wrong place at the wrong time," when he was questioned and later arrested in connection with the alleged rape and beating of a woman in May, defense attorney Steven Hattori told jurors yesterday.

But Assistant Attorney General Lewis Littlepage told the jury that the prosecution has strong physical evidence that will show Perry is guilty of the charges against him.

Perry, 27, is accused of raping and assaulting a 47-year-old woman in a beach near Adelup on May 27. His trial started yesterday with opening arguments and the questioning of two witnesses for the prosecution. He faces felony charges of criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct and other charges. "I'm not going to lie to you, there was an assault that occurred," Hattori told jurors. "But my client was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Perry is alleged to have driven the victim to the Adelup area in his sedan so they could talk after meeting earlier that evening, court documents state. While in the car, Perry allegedly began to beat the woman, then forcefully removed her from the car onto the sand, where he allegedly continued to beat her before sexually assaulting her. The victim was later discovered by two fishermen that morning.

"The Naval career of this young man is at stake," Hattori said. "He had nothing to hide. He consented to a search of his bunk, his car and his locker. The Guam Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigation Section led to a wrong conclusion based on a police recruit's assumption."

Hattori explained that the police officer had pulled Perry over at the Mobil gas station across from the Adelup complex on the suspicion that Perry had been driving under the influence. Hattori said the officer, several hours later, reported to Adelup, where two fishermen had reported finding the victim.

"My client has had no prior convictions, no prior arrests, and is not capable of committing this crime," Hattori said. "(The police and investigators) came with a conclusion first, and worked desperately backwards to that conclusion."

Court documents state that police had stopped Perry shortly before the woman was found as he drove out of the Adelup complex around 4:30 a.m. The officer had been conducting a routine traffic stop and noted that Perry had sand on his face and clothing, and appeared to be intoxicated. Perry told the officer he had been playing volleyball at the beach with friends, court documents state. He later recanted his story and told police that he had fallen asleep on the beach, documents state.

Prosecutor Littlepage told jurors they plan to present an abundance of physical evidence.
"There is some evidence that is already here, and some evidence that is off island but will be here Monday," Littlepage said.

Littlepage told jurors that Navy personnel will testify that Perry broke curfew the night the alleged incident occurred.

The trial is scheduled to continue next week in Judge Steven Unpingco's courtroom.