Tags: Rep. | Burton: | Navy | Denies | Servicemen | Adequate | Training

Rep. Burton: Navy Denies Servicemen Adequate Training on Vieques

Monday, 14 January 2002 12:00 AM

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., Monday fired off a letter to England demanding to know why he refused to allow the USS Kennedy Battle Group three to four days of "live-fire training" at Vieques as the group prepared to set off for the Arabian Sea and action in the war against terrorism.

"You denied them the ability to gain this invaluable training on Vieques despite the specific request of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps without identifying an equal or superior location," said Burton.

"We have been informed that your non-support has forced the battle group to use less suitable ranges on the East Coast where they will not be able to acquire the level of realistic training that may potentially save the lives of our men and women in combat. Why?"

Congress, according to Burton, passed legislation in a defense appropriations act for this fiscal year acknowledging the importance of Vieques for training. But England still has not allowed training there.

"Since you apparently agreed to stop training on Vieques for the USS Kennedy Battle Group, are the training facilities you approve in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida an early indication of your certification? What is the reasoning for disregarding their requests for the battle groups?" Burton asked.

He concluded: "It is our job to represent the United States Armed Forces and support them with the best realistic live-fire training opportunities available. They have the right to the best training we can provide them. They have a right to expect that training and we as a nation have a solemn obligation to give it. They and their families deserve no less."

Reps. Bob Barr, R-Ga., Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Adam Putnam, R-Fla., all members of Burton's committee, also signed the letter to England.

A Navy spokesman told CNSNews.com Monday that England had received the letter and planned to respond. The spokesman did not say when the response would come.

The Navy has used Vieques Island for military exercises for close to 70 years, and it says the island is vital to the nation's security.

Last year, President Bush said he wanted the Navy to end its training on Vieques by 2003. But some insiders wonder if the war on terrorism will prompt him to back down on that commitment.

In January 2000 then-Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rossello and then-President Bill Clinton reached an agreement limiting the Navy's live ammunition training on Vieques.

Last year, Puerto Rico sued to stop the U.S. Navy from resuming its bombing exercises, citing a law Gov. Sila Calderon had signed banning "loud noises" along the island's shores. But federal Judge Gladys Kessler recently dismissed the lawsuit.

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House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., Monday fired off a letter to England demanding to know why he refused to allow the USS Kennedy Battle Group three to four days of live-fire training at Vieques as the group prepared to set off for the Arabian...
Rep.,Burton:,Navy,Denies,Servicemen,Adequate,Training,Vieques
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2002-00-14
Monday, 14 January 2002 12:00 AM
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