We don’t have to be ‘collateral damage’ in the war on terror

Not long ago, our corner of Washington seemed a peaceful, pleasant place to call home.

Our Navy has threatened that peacefulness by expanding their training exercises and areas, particularly here in our own Puget Sound and on the peninsulas.

Yes, the Navy is here to perform some awesome action when called upon. Yes, the Navy needs to practice those awesome actions somewhere. This is not what I’m addressing. I’m not anti-Navy.

More and more of our unique area is being taken over by the Navy, and the consequences for humans, wildlife and environment have not been good. See http://westcoastactionalliance.org/.

The Navy’s latest proposal covers miles of our own Kitsap beaches and many state parks to use for a long list of warfare training exercises. See the map accompanying this column.

“Although the Navy owns 46 miles of shoreline in the Pacific Northwest and over 151,000 acres of land here, this combat training will occur in our communities, boat marinas, 65+ state parks, public beaches, and on some private lands in Puget Sound and on the outer coast,” the West Coast Action Alliance states.

These are Navy Special Operations training, which means training the best of the best in unusual circumstances. “These operations are characterized by stealth, speed, and precise, violent application of force,” according to The Free Dictionary.

We’re told you won’t see anything or know the operation is taking place. On the over-the-beach action, “trainees would exit the water, quietly move into upland areas, and remain hidden.”

Oddly enough, the plans include using a buffer of at least 500 feet while training, a buffer with men in khakis and white T-shirts. Still not sure how stealth that could be.

Sound a bit disturbing to have this going on in your own neighborhood? It will certainly happen if we ignore this and let it slide like the other Navy proposals.

So what can we do?

Most importantly, you can arm yourself with information. Ask others to talk about the issue. Question politicians. Write a letter to the editor. Make your presence known.

Share your information with others. Join a group of people who have spent time learning what can be done and actually do it. I can help get you connected; these groups are all over Kitsap.

The Navy’s current proposal can be read at https://navfac.navy.mil/NSOEA. The comment period on this proposal ends Feb. 21. Email your comments to nwnepa@navy.mil by that date.

Other escalations of training and equipment includes getting more E18 Growler war planes and widening their use to include the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Forest. Growler aircraft are the loudest, at 140 decibels within 100 feet, which can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss, according to Truthout’s Dahr Jamail. Growlers register at 115 decibels when they fly overhead at 1,000 feet. Incredibly loud, vibrating and painful.

Coupeville’s Naval Outlying Field, or OLF, is the venue for the Navy’s “touch-and-go” exercises, which take place for training pilots to land on an aircraft carrier mid-sea. These exercises go on for up to 16 hours a day, 250 days a year. You can imagine what this does to the value of property and the state of mind of the residents. An informative documentary, “Plane Truths” (30 minutes), “shows the impact of Navy training activities on Whidbey Island.” See www.planetruths.org.

Electromagnetic radiation emitters on trucks are parked at various places all over the Olympic Peninsula, particularly the national forest, with Growlers hunting them down. Electromagnetic radiation, as you can probably guess, causes some incredibly serious health problems for wildlife and humans.

When residents around the OLF airstrip complained to the Navy about the unbearable Growler noises, toxic well water (causing the extended use of bottled water from another horrible problem the Navy caused), and far more than fits in this column, they were told by Navy staff that they are “collateral damage in the war on terror.”

Is this something we’re going to be hearing soon?

Marylin Olds is a Kitsap County opinion columnist. Questions and comments are welcome at marylin.olds@gmail.com.

Marylin Olds

Marylin Olds