The Mariana Islands are an ideal setting for military training and testing activities because of their location in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The islands and the surrounding air and sea space have provided the United States (U.S.) military with a safe training and testing environment for decades. The military readiness activities conducted here are critical for preparing service members to defend the nation and the global commons.
Within the Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) Study Area are many of the historical training and testing areas that comprise the Mariana Islands Range Complex (MIRC). This range complex is a set of adjacent areas of sea space, undersea space, land ranges, and overlying airspace designated for military training and testing activities. The range complex provides controlled and safe environments where military ships, submarines, and aircraft crews can train in realistic conditions. The combination of at-sea ranges, with land training ranges, safety landing fields, and nearshore amphibious landing sites is critical to realistic training, and allows usage of range tracking and scoring systems to capture data on the effectiveness of tactics and equipment.
The military must test and evaluate new technologies, such as weapons, sensors and other systems, before they are used by the fleet. The testing activities conducted in the MITT Study Area are critical for military readiness and ensure the quality and safety of systems before deployment.
The MIRC is characterized by a unique combination of attributes that make it a strategically important range complex for the military. These attributes include the following:
- Location within U.S. territory
- Ranges and training areas on the islands of Guam, Rota, Saipan, Tinian, and Farallon de Medinilla
- Expansive airspace, surface sea space, and underwater sea space
- Authorized use of multiple types of live and inert ordnance on Farallon de Medinilla
- Support for all Navy warfare areas and numerous other service roles, missions, and tactical tasks
- Support to homeported service units based at military installations on Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
- Training support for deployed forces
- Western Pacific Theater training venue for Special Warfare forces
- Ability to conduct Joint and combined force exercises
- Rehearsal area for Western Pacific contingencies
Due to the strategic location of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) ongoing reassessment of the Western Pacific military alignment, there has been a dramatic increase in the importance of the MIRC as a training and testing venue and its capabilities to support required military training.