Friday, November 6, 2009

N.J. military bases heighten security in wake of Fort Hood tragedy, and a brief perspective

I write this afternoon with a heavy heart in the wake of the horrific killings at Fort Hood, TX.

Merely to inform our readers, the McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst base has increased security measures, according to this brief from the Times of Trenton, in the wake of the horrific scene at Fort Hood, Texas. We have yet to learn whether changes have been made in the security protocols at our nearby bases Naval Weapons Station Earle and Fort Monmouth.

NOPE wishes to reiterate heartfelt condolences to all of those witnessed to the tragedy and remind our supporters that local service members at Earle and Fort Monmouth are the fabric of our community and history. My kids share classrooms with kids of those stationed here. Many of the leaders of NOPE either dutifully served in the military or worked at one of the nearby bases, and the thought of a Fort Hood-like incident here in Monmouth County is devastating. We have much to appreciate about our local military presence.

It is unfortunate, but the largely uncovered (by the media) product of NOPE's objection to proposed civilian housing and unimpeded civilian access at NWS Earle has to do with the safety of service members at the base. As difficult as it is to swallow that a military officer would turn a weapon on his brethren is beyond our civilian realm of comprehension, what readers can take from this tragedy locally, perhaps, is that the protection and quality-of-life issues of service members (i.e. good housing and family care, healthcare, e.g. PTSD awareness and rehabilitation) on U.S. military bases needs a much closer, more-urgent look from our legislators and military leaders.

We, Americans, too often take our freedoms for granted, without engaging in matters critical to those behind the lines. Let us not only turn our thoughts to those grieving the Fort Hood killings, but remember to do all that we can locally to assist those who are making enormous sacrifices as members of the U.S. Military.

Bill Holobowski,
NOPE Chairman

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Extremely heavy hearts in wake of Fort Hood killings

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences must go out to the families of the victims of the horrific scene that has unfolded at Fort Hood, Texas, where gunmen in military uniforms, opened fired on bystanders, killing 11 and wounding 31 others. We turn your attention to the national media coverage of this sad story.

Navy spin-doctoring the Kitsap break-in (?)...and a correction

Our apologies, first off, for sloppily and incorrectly identifying Naval Base Kitsap as a Maine installation (the Bangor reference threw us off) - Kitsap is in Washington, evidently about 20 miles west of Seattle; we've corrected yesterday's blog post accordingly.

Regardless, considering that the story is grabbing attention beyond our ragtag blog, it appears that the Department of Navy or some higher powers are downplaying details about five senior citizen antiwar demonstrators who used bolt cutters to cut thru a few lines of barbed wire security fencing at the base to get near nuclear missile storage areas, merely to protest.

Whereas the Kitsap Sun report on Tuesday suggests the perps (get 81-year-old Jesuit priest, an 83-year-old nun and three crafty seniors in their 60s ) roamed the base for 4+ hours under moonlight without being seen, a Navy spokesman in this AP report, picked up by San Jose (CA) Mercury News and the Navy Times, among others, suggests a ho-hum event.

Texas-based Spero News (apparently a publication focused on religious issues), on the other hand, details that the group not only easily cut through three sets of security fencing before they were apprehended after trying to break thru another fence and tripping a security alarm, but cited Naval Base Kitsap as home to more than 2,000 nuclear warheads, or nearly 25% of the U.S.'s arsenal (according to November 2006 data from the Natural Resources Defense Council). Scary.

Here's the kicker - the intrusion evidently occurred within a day of base security exercises where...better look out..."identification cards of those entering and leaving the base are being checked, and guards are electronically scanning everybody," according to this separate Kitsap Sun piece.

Naval Weapons Station Earle neighbors should keep this Washington incident fresh in their minds when considering the egregiously flawed Department of Navy plan to compromise base security by opening a fully impeded access route to the Laurelwood homes on the base and letting its developer (Laurelwood Homes, LLC) rent on-base housing to civilians from 2010-2040.

Otherwise, keep in mind this insomnia-curing but informative January 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General that showed that our nearby Earle may have some security oversight problems of its own, pertaining to its reliance on outsource security personnel (a.k.a. Myers Security).

Anyone that did not attend last week's NOPE rally at CNHS or take part in our postcard campaign (NOPE has already collected over 600 sets and disseminated close to 1,000) should contact us immediately at or (or call us at 732.322.0130 or 732.946.3747), and we will provide you a packet of postcards (expressing discontent over the Earle civilian housing plan with the Secretary of Navy, EPA, NJ Governor and Homeland Security) that you can fill out and give to your neighbors, friends and family to mail to the proper authorities.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Did you hear the one about the Priest, the Nun and 3 Senior Citizens that broke into a Navy nuclear missile storage site in Washington?"

No joke. Honestly, you cannot make this stuff up.

According to Tuesday's Kitsap (Washington State) Sun, "five protesters associated with an international peace movement were arrested Monday after cutting through three security fences to reach an area where nuclear missiles are stored at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor."

Among the intruders (pictured to the right): an 81-year-old Catholic priest, an 83-year-old nun and three 60-somethings.

So how did such strong-armed invaders get through three sets of fencing (7-foot fencing: the preferred security measure that NWS Earle will use to deter civilian renters and their visitors from breaking into the secure parts of the base) meant to keep people away from the nukes? BOLT CUTTERS and INGENUITY.

The timeline in the Kitsap Sun story would suggest these folks were prowling the base for about 4 1/2 hours, from the time they broke in (2 a.m., under moonlight: "we were hidden in plain sight the whole time," said one of the seniors) until the time they tripped an alarm (6:30 a.m.) trying to cut another chain-link fence apparently very close to the where nukes are stored. (Frankly, they're lucky they're not dead, since base personnel are authorized to use deadly force under such circumstances of invasion).

Between this comical and at the same time frightening indicent, and the unrelated death (by ordnance explosion) of a civilian intruder into a blast zone last week at Fort Bragg, NC, it is pretty clear that U.S.-based military installations are far from impenetrable, contrary to what the Department of Navy suggests in the environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Laurelwood civilian housing plan at Earle.

Just ask yourself (...and your elected officials): if five geriatrics with bolt cutters can easily break into a nuclear weapons storage site on foot under darkness without being caught by Navy base personnel, how does the Department of Navy's plan to welcome 300 new families of civilian renters at NWS Earle enhance security at one of our largest and most important military ordnance storage facilities?

Civilian renters should never be allowed to step foot on NWS Earle, period, lest the U.S. Navy wants to deal with public relations embarassment like this (and, perhaps even worse, potential fatalities)!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So much for fences and warning signs keeping people off military bases...trespasser blown to bits at Ft. Bragg ordnance range

Two poignant responses in this Fayetteville Observer article today from Fort Bragg (N.C.) spokesman Tom McCollum, on the death of a civilian trespasser who was blown to shreds on Friday when scavenging for scrap metal and stepping on "unexploded ordnance" on an explosives range within the confines of the 35,000-acre Army base in North Carolina:
  1. "You are going to have death when someone is stupid and walks into these areas."
  2. "We can't control the access to our impact areas...we've done just about everything we can."

As this translates to our civilian housing objections at Weapons Station Earle, and NOPE's view that security forces will never be able to fully stop trespassers once civilians are given keys to the base, we reiterate the point that Lt. Col. Jim Sfayer (retired) made at last Tuesday's NOPE rally (and past NOPE briefings) that, without a full cadre of security personnel, it is impossible to keep trespassers and poachers off military bases as vast as 11,000-acre Mainside Earle and the 35,000-acre Fort Bragg.

As more than a casual observer, it appears ludicrious to us in the case of the accidental death by explosion of a civilian at Bragg for the U.S. Army to take zero accountability for Friday's incident and to write this off as someone for being "stupid." And turning to the Department of Navy's plan to let civilians rent 300 underutilized military houses at NWS Earle, it is ludicrious, as we highlighted on Tuesday night, to expect that Earle can prevent a similar catastrophe by providing unimpeded civilian access to the Laurelwood housing development within its fences.

DO NOT buy the DoN's bill of goods that it can keep us, and NWS Earle, secure by introducing 300 civilian renter families onto the base by September 2010.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NJ's Gubernatorial candidates M.I.A. on Earle

Regardless of where you stand ahead of tomorrow's elections, for the sake of fair disclosure, none of the three primary candidates for N.J. Governor has shown any inkling of interest in sharing views on proposed civilian housing at Weapons Station Earle - an outright disgrace in failing to protect the state's best interests.

New Jersey taxpayers not only face tremendous homeland security risk, but at least a $500 million unfundated mandate, if the Department of Navy gets its wish, in our estimation (see our Business Case analysis).

Earlier this year, Governor Corzine sent a rep to meet with us in Tinton Falls, but had no interest in recognizing the issue or exploring it any more deeply than the cursory attendance at the meeting. Neither the Christie nor Daggett camps responded to written and email inquiries on where the candidates stand. To be sure, we are not really sure than any of them knows that civilian renters are slated for Earle in 2010 if the Department of Navy has its way, although Christie should, since he aggressively prosecuted Gary McKinnon, the U.K. crackpot who crashed essential Earle computer networks for a month around the time of 9/11.

NOPE is nonpartisan, but wants to remind our supporters that, whichever candidate you choose for New Jersey Governor on Tuesday, that you need to a) fill out and mail the pre-addressed postcards to the Governor that NOPE distributed at Tuesday's rally (email us at or if you need more; we printed another 2,000 copies) and b) place calls to the Governor (609-292-6000) stating your objection to proposed civilian housing at NWS Earle.