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Feffer: Small Step Forward in Resolving Okinawa Base Impasse

May 9, 2012 

John Feffer, the editor of Foreign Policy In Focus and a leader with the Network for Okinawa has written an excellent article “Small Step Forward in Resolving Okinawa Base Impasse” (May 3, 2012) that analyzes the implications of the U.S.-Japan deal to move 9000 Marines from Okinawa and distribute them to different locations in the Pacific:

It’s a deal that’s been more than 15 years in the making and the unmaking. The United States and Japan have been struggling since the 1990s to transform the U.S. military presence on the island of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan.

In preparation for this week’s visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to Washington, the two sides rolled out the latest attempt to resolve what has grown into a major sticking point in alliance relations.

According to the most recent deal, 9,000 U.S. Marines will leave Okinawa, thus fulfilling a longstanding U.S. promise to reduce the overall military footprint on the island. Half of that number will go to expanded facilities on Guam while the remainder will rotate through other bases in the region, including Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

Japan will cover a little more than three billion dollars out of the estimated 8.6-billion-dollar cost of the Guam transfer.

“These adjustments are necessary to realize a U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable,” according to a joint statement issued by Washington and Tokyo.

[...]

Key critics of the process of Pacific realignment – including John McCain, Carl Levin and Jim Webb – remain sceptical of the latest agreement since the review has not yet been completed.

Also skeptical are anti-base activists in the places where the Marine presence will increase.

“Hawaii does not need more military,” says Koohan Paik, a media professor at Kauai Community College.

“There are already 161 military installations in Hawaii, which have resulted in hundreds of sites contaminated with PCBs, trichloroethylene, jet fuel and diesel, mercury, lead, radioactive Cobalt 60, unexploded ordnance, perchlorate, and depleted uranium. And they call this security? The only ‘security’ this brings is economic security to military contractors.”

[...]

The latest U.S.-Japan deal comes at a time of considerable uncertainty regarding military spending. The Pentagon is under pressure to reduce costs in order to meet new spending limits dictated by concerns over rising national debt.

However, the Barack Obama administration’s “Pacific pivot”, announced last year, is difficult to achieve on the cheap. U.S. allies are concerned that they will have to shoulder an increasing amount of the costs of this realignment. Included in this bill will be the cost of upgrading the Futenma facility while Tokyo and Washington debate the base’s future.

9000 Marines to move off Okinawa to Hawaiʻi, Guam, Australia, etc.

May 1, 2012 

As reported in the Washington Post, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. will move 9000 Marines off Okinawa to other locations in the Pacific. While this may have sidestepped a politically volatile issue in its relations with Japan, the problem of the Futenma Base still remains, and the expansi0n of troops and bases in other locations in the Pacific may be spreading the seeds of opposition:

The U.S. and Japanese governments said Thursday that they will move about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa to other bases in the Western Pacific, in a bid to remove a persistent irritant in the relationship between the two allies.

The Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa has been seen by both sides as essential to deterring Chinese military aggression in the region. But the noisy air base’s location in a crowded urban area has long angered Okinawa residents, and some viewed the Marines as rowdy and potentially violent.

This plan will relocate 2700 Marines from Japan to Hawaiʻi.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “Hawaii must prepare for move of up to 2,700 Marines, Inouye says”:

The U.S. will move as many as 2,700 Marines from Japan to Hawaii as the Pentagon scales back a $21.1 billion blueprint for Guam, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye confirmed today.

“This troop movement will occur after extensive discussions with the leaders of Japan and it highlights Hawaii’s importance as the focus of our national defense shifts to the Asia-Pacific region,” Inouye said.

The Pentagon is expected to announce as soon as tomorrow that it intends to send about 4,700 U.S. Marines now stationed in Japan to Guam, as previously reported, as well as the contingent going to Hawaii, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan hasn’t been made public.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done (in Hawaii) to prepare for their arrival,” Inouye said. “We must build more housing, secure more training areas and improve and expand infrastructure while working with the counties and the state to make certain the Marines transition easily into their new duty station in Hawaii.”

This decision is being leaked in advance of a formal announcement. However, no environmental/social/cultural impact analysis has been done to address securing “more training areas” and develoment to “improve and expand infrastructure”.  This is typical of the military decisions in Hawaiʻi: plans are made, studies (when they are done) are written to order to justify the decision, and political bosses make pronouncements as if they were commandments from God.  And, just in case anyone had objections or doubts about these plans, Senator Inouye made clear how the people of Hawaiʻi are supposed to respond:

The one thing I am confident of, is that the people of Hawaii will welcome these brave men and women and their families with Aloha,” said Inouye.

In other words, the profoundly sacred Kanaka Maoli concept of “aloha” has been hijacked and turned into a kitsch tourist slogan, whose flip-side is a weapon to silence dissent and suppress political protest.

Jon Letman’s latest article, “Without question: US military expansion in the Asia-Pacific” discussed the U.S. military’s Pacific ‘pivot’:

As Noam Chomsky wrote in this two-part essay, America’s “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region is in response to what it calls “classic security dilemmas” posed by the rising influence of China and Russia. Reacting with military programmes and strategies it says are “defensive”, this US “pivot” is perceived as bullying, threats and intrusion - in other words more of the same - by those most impacted by America’s foreign military presence.

The “classic security dilemma makes sense”, Chomsky argues, if one operates under the assumption that the US has “the right to control most of the world, and that US security requires something approaching absolute global control”.

As Letman noted:

Hawaii’s role in all this is enormous. Hawaii represents a fraction of one per cent of the United States’ land area and has just 1.37 million people, but is home to 119 total military sites, making Hawaii effectively a giant floating military garrison from which troops and military hardware are dispatched around the world.

Not a dozen miles from tourist-packed Waikiki Beach is Camp HM Smith, headquarters of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) which oversees military operations in roughly half the world from the Bering Sea to the Antarctic and across the entirety of the Pacific Ocean as far west as Central Asia, Pakistan and the southern Indian Ocean. Over half the world lives within USPACOM’s “area of responsibility” including China, India, Indonesia, Japan and 32 other countries.

The military bases in Hawaiʻi and the bloated U.S. defense budget has been justified as a jobs creation program: military Keynesianism.  But it is a myth that military spending is the best way to create jobs. Letman explored this contradiction:

Rather than question an economy based on weapons, violence and control, the American public largely forfeits any protest in favour of the holy four-lettered word, JOBS. But the argument that the military and defence industry is an indispensable source of jobs is deflated when one reads a study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst which finds that $1 billion spent on military production creates 8,600 direct and indirect jobs. But that same amount of money invested in clean energy, health care or education could produce between 12,000 and 19,000 jobs.

This, however, is not a debate that is being waged by the wider American public. In fact, like the subjects of our foreign bases, drone warfare and the US military’s impact on people in the Asia-Pacific, it’s largely overlooked. In general, Americans spend little or no time considering the plight of people in other nations - especially small islands - whose land, sea, ports and resources are used to test, train and store US military hardware and personnel. Whatever the costs may be to local populations in terms of environmental damage, social disruption, economic coercion and an increased danger simply by hosting US bases goes undiscussed.

Curiously, despite the fact that in 2011 the US defence budget was well over $700 billion - far exceeding the combined defence budgets for China, Russia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the UK and Japan - a recent Rasmussen telephone survey reveals one in four Americans believe the US is still not spending enough of its military.

But as the Asia-Pacific “pivot” brings more testing, training and deployments to accommodate weapons and warriors fanning out across half the world, Americans would do well to pay closer attention to the vast human and financial resources its government demands. The time is long overdue to consider that what we call “defensive” is to so many around the world seen as offensive.

As Bruce Gagnon said just prior to going to Jeju island, “This has nothing to do with defending the United States or its people against attack. It has everything to do with corporate profits and power.”

Relocating U.S. bases and troops is like BP spraying chemical dispersants on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: it only makes the problem sink, spread out and persist. As peoples movements of Ka Moana Nui (the Vast Ocean) have demanded, we demand a reduction of U.S. military foces, the removal of bases and the restoration of people to military-occupied lands.

U.S. military reductions in Okinawa adds up to more militarization of Hawai’i

February 22, 2012 

Despite much bellyaching from the Pentagon about having to go on a diet, President Obama himself stated, “Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership.” The new defense strategy reflects reductions in the rate of growth of the military budget.   The Atlantic published an interesting article “The Real Defense Budget” (February 20, 2012) that reports the Pentagon budget is actually closer to $1 trillion!

Senator Inouye told the media that despite these changes in the military budget and in basing plans in east Asia, Hawai’i will not get relief from militarization. In fact, the military may grow in some areas to absorb some of the Marines being pushed out of Okinawa.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported  “Isles hold on to military might” (February 21, 2012):

As military communities around the nation fret about defense cuts, U.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye said Hawaii expects to receive about 1,000 more Marines from Oki­nawa, have the same number or more ships based at Pearl Harbor and see a slight increase in shipyard work here.

Inouye confirmed Monday that with continuing problems with a 2006 agreement to relocate some Marines on Oki­nawa and move about 8,000 to Guam, the plan has changed.

About half the total, or 4,000 Marines, will now go to Guam, he said.

“Instead of all (8,000) going to Guam, they’ll go elsewhere — Australia, Hawaii and Guam,” Ino­uye said

[...]

“But the question now arises, Will those troops be rotating-type troops, or will they be stationed here with dependents, which would require schools, etc.? We have not reached that stage (of decision) yet.”

One  disturbing revelation was that Marines could be housed in Kona on Hawai’i island. This follows similar remarks by Governor Abercrombie several months ago:

From a logistics and transportation standpoint, the Army’s Schofield Barracks on Oahu or the Kona side of Hawaii island could be looked at to house more Marines, he said

Inouye also confirmed that Singapore and the Philippines are being targeted for increased militarization:

Inouye said, “It’s serious business — the fact that we will be adding vessels in Singapore, we’ll be setting up a rotating-type of base in Australia, and I don’t know if the people of Hawaii have caught it, but we have now restored discussions with the Filipinos.”

[...]

HIS MAIN POINTS

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says:

MARINES

The Pentagon is looking at shifting about 1,000 Marines from Okinawa to Hawaii. The move could be as part of permanent stations or rotational duty through Hawaii. About 500 could be accommodated at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base. Schofield Barracks and the Kona side of Hawaii island are being looked at as possibilities.

SHIPYARD

Pearl Harbor shipyard work will increase slightly.

PEARL HARBOR

The specific surface ships stationed at Pearl Harbor will change, but the base will retain 11 — the number it now has — or even more.

In an earlier article, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “$487B in Defense cuts would take 2 cruisers from Pearl Harbor” (February 15, 2012):

The Navy plans to retire two of three cruisers at Pearl Harbor under a leaner defense budget — a move that, along with other cutbacks, is expected to have a negative effect on Hawaii’s economy.

Officials at the Pentagon confirmed that the USS Port Royal — the newest cruiser in the Navy inventory and one with ballistic missile shoot-down capability — is expected to be decommissioned in fiscal year 2013.

The USS Chosin, which is in Pearl Harbor shipyard receiving $112.5 million in repairs and upgrades, would be retired in 2014.

In a statement submitted Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon is “retiring seven lower-priority Navy cruisers that have not been upgraded with ballistic missile defense capability or that would require significant repairs.”

The Defense Department’s budget request for 2013, released Monday, sets out $487 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Also affected would be the towering Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a regular visitor to Hawaii’s shores.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said it plans to sideline the $1 billion one-of-a-kind missile tracker by placing it “in a limited test and contingency operations status” to save $500 million over five years.

As the article mentions, one of the ships to be decommissioned, the USS Port Royal, is the newest cruiser. The ship cost $1 billion to build.  In 2009, the USS Port Royal ran aground on the reef outside of Pearl Harbor, causing extensive damage to the coral as well as to the ship.  The repairs were estimated to cost $25 million to $40 million.  However, shipyard sources reported that the damage to the frame could not be fully repaired.  This probably explains the early retirement of this state of the art missile cruiser.

 

Disarray or disinformation? – Shifting U.S. military plans in the Asia Pacific region

February 6, 2012 

Over the past week there have been confusing and contradictory reports about plans to relocate U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Do they reflect the actual state of disarray in the U.S.-Japan alliance or psychological operations to pressure local communities into accepting base relocation plans in Okinawa and Guam?

On February 1, the Kyodo News Service reported that:

The U.S. Defense Department is considering shifting part of some 8,000 Marine troops in Okinawa Prefecture to Hawaii and other Pacific areas instead of Guam, Pentagon sources said Tuesday.

This alarmed the Pacific Daily News in Guam: “BREAKING NEWS: Kyodo reports that 3,000 Marines may move to Hawaii instead of Guam.”  However its concern was that Guam would lose out on the economic “benefits” of the military buildup.  Meanwhile grassroots communities in Guam and Hawai’i brace to fight the latest threats of military expansion.

Then Bloomberg News reported “Obama Said to Curtail $21 Billion Guam Military Expansion”(February 3):

President Barack Obama plans to curtail a plan costing as much as $21.1 billion to expand the U.S. military’s presence in Guam and instead will rotate some of the Marines through the Asia-Pacific region, people familiar with the matter said.

The administration now intends to send about 4,500 U.S. Marines stationed in Japan to Guam and to rotate an additional 4,000 through Australia, Subic Bay and perhaps a smaller base in the Philippines and Hawaii, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan hasn’t been announced.

Joseph Gerson suggested that these news leaks may have been part of a psychological campaign to pressure Japan and Okinawa into accepting the 2006 “Roadmap” relocating the Futenma base to Henoko and moving 8000 Marines to Guam.    It appears that some elements of the base realignment will proceed, while others are put on hold.  On February 4, the Japan Times reported “Genba, U.S. huddle anew over ’06 base pact”:

“Both Japan and the U.S. remain unchanged in that we think relocating the Futenma base to Henoko is the best plan and that the number of marines who will remain in Okinawa will also be the same — 10,000,” Genba said.

Earlier this week, Kyodo News reported that out of the 8,000 marines that would be redeployed to Guam under the Futenma relocation plan, the U.S. was instead considering deploying some 3,000 of them elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, including Hawaii, because of Guam’s proximity to China.

On Friday, Bloomberg also reported that about half the marines would be rotated around the region, including Australia and Subic Bay in the Philippines, in line with Washington’s new defense strategy to increase the U.S. presence in Asia.

The bilateral 2006 realignment plan entailed shifting 8,000 marines and their dependants to Guam upon completion of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko coast in Nago farther north on Okinawa Island.

But on February 6, a Kyodo/Bloomberg article reported “Marine base to remain in Futenma: U.S.”:

A senior U.S. official told Japanese officials in late January that Futenma Air Station will have to stay in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, for the time being because of the standoff over its relocation plan, sources close to bilateral relations said Sunday.

This suggests that the facility, U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, is staying in the crowded city despite a formal bilateral agreement to return the land to Japanese control once a replacement facility is built for it elsewhere in the prefecture.

On Saturday, Japan and the United States reportedly agreed to move 4,700 marines in Okinawa to Guam instead of 8,000, delinking the transfer plan from the contentious Futenma relocation plan stipulated in the road map for realigning U.S. forces in Japan.

The developments have increased the likelihood that the relocation issue is headed for the back burner, which is likely to upset the already upset Okinawan public, which has been fighting the plan tooth and nail for well over a decade.

Meanwhile, the AP reported “Army reducing number of combat brigades to cut costs.”  Taking into account the Pentagon’s new concentration on the Asia Pacific region, it could mean an increase in the size of Army brigades in Hawai’i:

The Army plans to slash the number of combat brigades from 45 to as low as 32 in a broad restructuring of its fighting force aimed at cutting costs and reducing the service by about 80,000 soldiers, according to U.S. officials familiar with the plans.

Officials said the sweeping changes will likely increase the size of each combat brigade — generally by adding another battalion — in a long-term effort to ensure that those remaining brigades have the fighting capabilities they need when they go to war. A brigade is usually about 3,500 soldiers, but can be as large as 5,000 for the heavily armored units. A battalion is usually between 600-800 soldiers.

It’s time to reduce, not relocate U.S. bases and forces from the Asia Pacific and invest in “Trans Pacific Peace”!

Nye on U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia Pacific

November 21, 2011 

Joseph Nye, President Clinton’s first Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs wrote an opinion article for the New York Times that applauds President Obama for his ‘pivot’ towards the Asia Pacific region and decision to increase U.S. military training in Australia.  This appears to be a concession that the move of Futenma air station within Okinawa is not feasible.  But one should read this article as the logic driving U.S. policy in the Asia Pacific.   As you can see, the concerns and wishes of peoples of the Pacific do not factor into his thinking.

He writes

There are three good reasons for President Obama’s decision to rotate regularly 2,500 Marines through an Australian base.

Obama is right to ‘pivot’ American foreign policy toward East Asia. It sends the right message to China, and avoids further friction with Japan.

Of the U.S. “message to China” he writes:

The Pentagon’s East Asia Strategy Review that has guided our policy since 1995 offered China integration into the international system through trade and exchanges, but we hedged our bet by simultaneously strengthening our alliance with Japan. Our military forces did not aspire to “contain” China in a cold war fashion, but they helped to shape the environment in which China makes its choices.

And of the Okinawa situation he concedes:

The U.S. and Japan have been working on the Futenma issue since I co-chaired a special action committee on Okinawa — in 1995! The current official plan to move the Marines inside Okinawa is unlikely to be acceptable to the Okinawa people. Moving Marines to Australia is a smart move because they will be able to train and exercise freely without inadvertently signaling a withdrawal from the region.

 

U.S. pivot to Asia makes China nervous

November 16, 2011 

The Washington Postpublished an informative article on China’s reaction to President Obama’s “pivot” toward Asia:

With the Obama administration’s high-profile pivot toward Asia this week — pushing for a new free-trade agreement with at least eight other countries and securing military basing rights in Australia — China is feeling at once isolated, criticized, encircled and increasingly like a taret of U.S. moves.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which was the major policy issue at the APEC summit in Honolulu, will raise tensions between China and the U.S. and spill over from the realm of economics into the realm of security concerns:

Among the friction points between the United States and China, a particular source of tension is the U.S. push for a new free-trade pact, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which pointedly does not include China. Beijing sees the development of the TPP as a political move, to create a U.S.-dominated counterweight to a rival trade bloc of Southeast Asian countries plus China, Japan and South Korea, known by the acronym ASEAN Plus Three.

[...]

“President Obama wants to intensely push on all fronts,” said Zhu Feng, a professor at Peking University’s School of International Studies. “It’s very, very depressing. Of course, it’s targeting China. It’s a new East Asian strategy.”

Zhu said he feared that the Chinese government would react to feeling isolated — particularly if the United States pursues the TPP free-trade agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and, perhaps, Japan, without China being invited to join. And the one area where Beijing could react is the economic arena, where the United States and China had lately been acting more cooperatively, even as they continued to disagree on the issue of currency valuation.

“What worries me for the moment is, economically China’s backlash could be very serious,” Zhu said. “Economics has turned out to be common ground for both sides. Now I have to say security elements will complicate China’s view of economic engagement.”

[...]

But, analysts here said, China expects to be taken seriously as a player in the East Asian region. And the analysts feared that any U.S. moves seen as provocative might only push a nervous China to take defensive measures.

“If the U.S. tries to be provocative . . . and treat China as a rival, it will definitely trigger an arms race and put East Asia in a tight spot,” said Sun Zhe, an international relations professor at Tsinghua University. “This is what alarms me most.”

Obama on U.S. military expansion in Australia: “We are here to stay”

November 16, 2011 

The New York Times carried another article about Obama’s decision to expand the U.S. military presence and activity in Australia as part of its containment of China.  U.S. imperial arrogance is on full display. Also, the article also touches on the the new types of military basing arrangements that we are more likely to see in the coming years.  With growing pressure to cut the federal budget, foreign military bases have come under increasing scrutiny in Congress.   Joint use base agreements are a way to ensure U.S. military access to bases without having to incur the cost and effort of maintaining the bases.  For example all South Korean military bases are available for U.S. military use, which is why the Jeju island military base is seen a U.S.-driven project.  Here’s a brief excerpt from the NYT article:

“But the second message I’m trying to send is that we are here to stay,” Mr. Obama said. “This is a region of huge strategic importance to us.” He added: “Even as we make a whole host of important fiscal decisions back home, this is right up there at the top of my priority list. And we’re going to make sure that we are able to fulfill our leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region.”

On his two-day visit to Australia, the president will fly north across the continent to Darwin, a frontier port and military outpost across the Timor Sea from Indonesia, which will be the center of operations for the coming deployment. The first 200 to 250 Marines will arrive next year, with forces rotating in and out and eventually building up to 2,500, the two leaders said.

The United States will not build new bases on the continent, but will use Australian facilities instead.

U.S. to expand its military presence in Australia

November 16, 2011 

On his trip to Australia, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will expand its military footprint in Australia, but insists it is not intended to counter China in any way. Yeah, right.

President Barack Obama insisted Wednesday that the United States does not fear China, even as he announced a new security agreement with Australia that is widely viewed as a response to Beijing’s growing aggressiveness.

China responded swiftly, warning that an expanded U.S. military footprint in Australia may not be appropriate and deserved greater scrutiny.

The agreement, announced during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, will expand the U.S. military presence in Australia, positioning more U.S. personnel and equipment there, and increasing American access to bases. About 250 U.S. Marines will begin a rotation in northern Australia starting next year, with a full force of 2,500 military personnel staffing up over the next several years.

Obama called the deployment “significant,” and said it would build capacity and cooperation between the U.S. and Australia. U.S. officials were careful to emphasize that the pact was not an attempt to create a permanent American military presence in Australia.

US military will be based on Australian soil – just don’t call it a US ‘base’

August 1, 2011 

When is a foreign military base not a military base?  When it’s a ‘lily-pad’ in the U.S. military’s global network of bases.

The Herald Sun reports: “US military hardware and personnel are set to be permanently placed in Australia, though both governments continue to avoid the word “base”". The U.S. is negotiating an agreement with Australia:

Defence Minister Stephen Smith in Washington yesterday revealed he was keen to cement formal links so that the US could:

POSITION military equipment on Australian soil.

HAVE greater access to Australian training and test ranges, such as Shoalwater Bay in Queensland and Woomera in SA.

REGULARLY use Australian bases and ports.

“The strategic focus of our discussions with the United States is to the north of Australia and to the strategically important arc running from the Indian Ocean through to the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Smith told the Brookings Institution.

As the article points out, the bases would be aimed at containing China:  “Mr Smith will have raised eyebrows in Beijing with his admission that Australia is the “southern tier” of America’s strategic interest.”

Sailors use Australian navy ships to ‘import cocaine, heroin’

December 23, 2010 

Thanks to Mike Reitz for sharing this article with a headline: “Military in Hawaii the new French Connection?”  Apparently Australian sailors accused of smuggling drugs into their country picked up a package in Hawai’i: “…The source says naval ships recently returned from Pacific Rim war games in Hawaii with packages of drugs onboard…”

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Source: http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/story.htm?id=35796

Sailors use Australian navy ships to ‘import cocaine, heroin’

Navy insider has told the ABC sailors have been stashing drugs onboard vessels. [Department of Defence]

The Royal Australian Navy has been rocked by allegations of an organised drug ring, with claims that kilos of cocaine and heroin have been brought into the country on naval ships.

An anonymous source inside the Navy has told the ABC that sailors have been stashing the drugs onboard Navy vessels to get them into Australia.

The Australian Government and the Defence Force has confirmed Navy personnel are being investigated over the alleged use and supply of illegal drugs at the Garden Island Naval Base in Sydney.

Steroids and other unidentified substances were seized during a recent raid at the base.

The source alleges it has been going on for years.

“[For] 99.9 per cent of the time, Customs don’t bring [sniffer] dogs onto the ship … and dogs can’t get down into certain parts of the ships,” the source said.

The source says naval ships recently returned from Pacific Rim war games in Hawaii with packages of drugs onboard that were bound for Sydney’s red light district.

The sailor says more than 30 people on one ship alone have tested positive to using drugs.

They claim the drug ring infiltrates all ranks of the Navy’s sailors.

“It’s junior sailors, it’s senior sailors. That’s why no-one will talk to you,” the source said.

Defence says it is too early to confirm the nature of all substances seized in the raids.

Reports today suggest a number of personnel are being investigated over claims they sold illicit substances to backpackers in Sydney.

Home Affairs and Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor says if Defence staff are found to be dealing drugs, they will be getting no special treatment from authorities.

Figures released in June showed Defence had caught almost 600 servicemen and women taking illegal drugs and steroids in the past five years.

Despite the latest revelations the Government says Australians can still have confidence in the Navy.

Authorities say they are taking a strict zero-tolerance approach to drug use.

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