The Navy is holding a public meeting tonight in Pacific Beach, Washington to give Olympic Peninsula residents a chance to comment on its plans to conduct electronic warfare exercises over the Olympic National Forest. And in spite of the current science on electromagnetic radiation on wildlife, as well as glaring omissions from its own Environmental Assessment of adequate analyses of its adverse effects, Navy spokespersons are expected to hold fast.
After an anemic public outreach in August, limiting newspaper notices to Seattle, Aberdeen, and eastern Washington, Navy representatives should also expect a heightened response from community attendees regarding the thousands of low-level flights that will be involved in the jammer training for the foreseeable future. Should the permit be granted by the US Forest Service decision makers, the noisiest, stressor producing aircraft in the Navy inventory, flying low-level through the Peninsula at speeds in excess of 500 knots, would begin as early as September 2015. The damaging, socioeconomic impact would be inestimable until these war games are phased out.
The meeting can be heard online on KBKW-AM, live at 5 p.m. An Iraq Veterans Against the War activist plans to read the following statement from me during the Q & A:
"I am not an alarmist, or layman. I earned my wings as an Airborne Electronic Warfare Officer in 1970, deploying to Vietnam with VAQ-135 in 1971-72, and was familiar then with the potential for environmental damage by our electromagnetic countermeasures. During my operational readiness training on the Fallon (Nevada) Range Complex, our crews would have to “transmit in the blind” on air traffic control frequencies that we were jamming because our emissions invariably lit up air traffic control radars. My own son, having deployed to Iraq twice, has even spoken of “courtesy burns” from EA6B Prowlers that would pre-fly the routes of his truck convoys to trigger explosives. There is no denying that “electric” war jets pack heat, or “nominal” wattage, according to a recent communication with Navy Whidbey Public Affairs in order to side-step a question about output, and stay on message.
While the Olympic Peninsula has been used for years for readiness training by EA6B Prowlers, the Navy's recent Environmental Assessment of the EA18G’s possible impact is sorely lacking new science regarding possible adverse effects on wildlife. If it wasn’t such an incredibly important issue, it would be comical to note that, quoting from the assessment, "The Proposed action may affect but is not likely to adversely affect grizzly bears and Canada lynx, in the study area," might raise serious questions about the integrity of this analysis since the grizzly bear and lynx never found their way into the Peninsula, according to National Geographic.
Not so comical, but certainly more deceptive, are omissions by the Navy of adequate information for USFS decision makers to consider regarding thousands of low-level flights, at speeds in excess of 500 knots of the noisiest, stressor producing aircraft in the Navy inventory. This is serious enough, but the fact that the Navy’s own public outreach and Environmental Assessment conveniently omits any mention of Growlers transiting such a pristine wilderness, occasionally in formations of two or three – depending on the “operational scenario,” in the words of Whidbey Public Affairs - at speeds in excess of 500 knots, is disingenuous at best.
At a minimum the Navy assessment cries out for an independent Environmental Impact Statement before the USFS is allowed to unleash these electromagnetic war games on steroids on the Northwest's most pristine wilderness and surrounding communities. This jet aircraft is already a dinosaur, like my tactical electronic warfare aircraft and its EA6B upgrade. None of this devastation to our unspoiled heritage has to happen. As Growler commands prepare to formally eviscerate the ecosystem of the Olympic Peninsula, desperately in search of an era in which to justify their readiness training, aviation is moving away from manned aircraft, currently exploring unmanned carrier aviation. Even ECM simulators would be more effective for training purposes - and certainly more earth friendly.
Friendlier still would be to explore diplomatic solutions to conflicts, even abolishing war as an instrument of national policy altogether. It would result in a more sustainable future for not only for the Peninsula, but the planet."