The Pentagon's Sprawling Empire of Bases: A US Military Land and Sky Grab
January 13, 2018
Carol Miller / Space Alert!
How many new and expanded military bases is the Pentagon building and 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 within the US has remained mostly under the radar. There are many land, air, and sea space expansions underway in the US itself and every expansion destroys fragile and important ecosystems, harms protected species, range animals, wildlife and people.
US Military Land & Sky Grab
Carol Miller / Peaceful Skies Coalition & Space Alert!
(Winter/Spring 2015) -- Two questions:
1) How many new and expanded military bases is the Pentagon building?
2) 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 from around the world of the powerful struggles against US occupation by the people of Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam, and Hawai'i.
Massive Military Expansion Underway
Less well known than the international fights are the many land base, air, and sea space expansions underway in 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 mostly 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 sea space,
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; Not 1 More Acre, Colorado; Tucson Forward, Arizona; Stop the F-35, Vermont; Save Our Valley, Idaho; Safe Skies Coalition, New Mexico; Best for Beaufort, South Carolina; Citizens of Obeys Reserve, Whidbey Island, Washington; Protect Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park, Washington; and Protect NM Bear Mountain, Cibola National Forest, New Mexico.
Growing a Peaceful Skies Coalition
Peaceful Skies Coalition came together very quickly in response to an emergency. In 2010 all sectors of the region united 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 air 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 Air Force Base. This was the alternate route Cannon AFB has taken to try to circumvent the will of the people that 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 local governments with threats to close a base and move the activity somewhere more friendly. In many states legislatures appropriate general funds to bribe the military to keep bases open. States build roads, schools for military dependents, and fund state Military and Base Affairs committees as lobbyists to keep base funding a priority.
The 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 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.
Utah Joint Land Use Study Another mega-scale JLUS is taking place right now in Utah. As a heavily militarized state, this process underway in Utah 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 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 just a sanitized way to say "military land and sky grab."
Carol Miller is a member of Peaceful Skies Coalition and lives in Ojo Sarco, New Mexico.
Complete Joint Land Use Studies
92 Completed as of January 2012 (1985-2012)
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.