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New York Post

Just The Facts, Guv

April 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 New York Daily News. All Rights Reserved.


April 14, 2001 -- Gov. Pataki yesterday had barely returned from his self-assigned fact-finding mission to Vieques (he had planned a report to President Bush) when the Navy announced a renewal of training exercises on the controversial Puerto Rican island.

Sounds as if President Bush already had all the facts he needed.

Like this one:

"We have the USS Enterprise carrier battle group deploying to the Persian Gulf at the end of April, and they don't yet have the requisite training we'd like them to have," said Navy spokesman Lt. Commander Jeff Gordon.

In other words, young Americans are about to go into harm's way - dodging surface-to-air missiles over Iraq is commonplace for Navy fliers these days - and they need to have their considerable skills sharpened.

That's what Vieques is all about.

Now, it's understandable that some people living near the training range object to these occasional exercises. That's why the Navy is hard at work on an alternative to Vieques, and that's why a referendum on its future is in the works.

And where there's controversy, there are always (opportunistic?) politicians. (For further details, see "Vainglory in Vieques"("Pataki Visit Roils Island Politics," Puerto Rico herald, Vol. 5 No.15) on the facing page.)

Pataki, of course, is entitled to his opinion regarding Vieques. If he favors sending undertrained fliers off to the Persian Gulf, people need to know that, too.

How does good training pay off?

Do you think Navy Lt. Shane Osborn would have been able to pull his crippled EP-3E Aries out of a near-fatal dive over the South China Sea April 1 without it?

Neither do we.

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