Estos informes no están disponibles en español.


Inhofe: Europe Offers No Substitues For Vieques Range

by Hunter Keeter

March 2, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PHILLIPS BUSINESS INFORMATION, INC. All Rights Reserved.

Alternative naval live-fire training sites in Scotland and the Italian island Sardinia cannot make up for the loss of the Vieques range in Puerto Rico, according to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

In testimony yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Inhofe recounted his visit late last year to Europe where he found inadequacies in the sites selected by the Navy as stop-gap measures following the closure of Vieques .

"Vieques remains the one place in the Atlantic where our carrier battle groups and amphibious ready groups...can get the kind of training that is necessary to be prepared for their arrival in the Persian Gulf," he told the SASC.

Vieques was closed to the Navy and Marine Corps live-fire exercises last year after a Puerto Rican guard at the range was killed. Protestors now occupy the land used for live-fire training.

Early this year, the president and the government of Puerto Rico reached a tentative agreement on measures to reopen the range. That agreement calls for a referendum on the fate of Vieques before the suspension of live-fire training would be lifted.

The Navy has pursued two possible alternatives to Vieques, Cape Wrath in northern Scotland and Capo Teulada in southern Sardinia. But Inhofe raised several objections to these sites based on his visits there.

One objection he raised was that the training would have to take place on the way to the Persian Gulf, as opposed to before the battle groups left home.

Poor weather has a significant place on the list of limitations to Cape Wrath, he added.

"It is ironic that today as we have this hearing, we have the USS Eisenhower [CVN-69] group is up there right now and is supposed to have that training on the third and fourth of this month," Inhofe said. "Right now the weather has moved in and they are anticipating that they will not be able to do it."

He noted that during his visit, the cloud cover and rain were so extensive that he "had a hard time finding a small enough airplane to get down below the weather to see what it looked like. There is no way they could have had spotters there and carried out the exercise."

The Eisenhower battle group now faces a choice: either continue with the mission--perhaps facing combat without complete training--or "stay there and wait it out," he said.

Cape Wrath is also closed to live-fire four months out of the year, limiting U.S. Navy access to between November and February, "during which only 25 percent of the time is the weather suitable," he said.

Another issue with Cape Wrath is that getting there takes four to five days. With adequate training time factored in, it takes another four or five days to return.



What's Your Problem?

by Hunter Keeter

March 6, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PHILLIPS BUSINESS INFORMATION, INC. All Rights Reserved.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) takes issue with some of the complaints of the Puerto Rican protestors on the Vieques island training range.

Historically, the number of available annual training days at Vieques has been 180 days, Inhofe says. But at the Army's artillery training school at Ft. Sill, Okla., training is conducted 320 days per year. The population of the city of Lawton, Okla., about 100,000 people, is 1.2 miles from the artillery range at Ft. Sill. The population of Vieques is 9,300 people and located 9.7 miles from the training range there.


Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback