The United States wants to use this island as target practice
This is Pagan Island. It looks like the perfect tropical getaway... but soon it will look completely different.
The Pentagon wants to use the islands as target practice for 16 weeks out of every year starting in 2017. According to the Los Angeles Times, hundreds of Marines would carry out Pacific warfare attacks across the 10-mile-long island and its two volcanos using fighter jets, helicopters, plenty of live ammo and bombs.
It's all part of President Barack Obama's military "rebalance" to prepare the U.S. should war return to the Pacific.
But not everyone is backing Obama's forward thinking.
Residents say allowing the U.S. military to use their island as its own simulated war zone would destroy the rare coral ecosystems and wildlife as well as force people to relocate.
One resident told The Guardian, "These little islands cannot be the only alternative. There is no justification in taking small islands with very little resources ... and destroying them for military purposes."
And a biologist at the University of Hawaii who has spent time on the island documenting its wildlife said in an op-ed, "The proposed military activities will most certainly jeopardize Pagan and cause disturbances to its rich agriculturally and ecologically valuable topsoil, an increased risk of fire during dry summers, erosion and consequent destruction of Pagan's coral reefs, and would risk extinction of Pagan's unique plants and animals."
A petition on Change.org titled "Don't drop bombs in my backyard!" has already garnered more than 110,000 signatures.
Military officials say they will look at ways to address concerns following several public hearings on its draft environmental impact statement. The final statement is set to be released in July of 2016.
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