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Alternatives to Vieques

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Military activity on the island of Vieques has recently become a contentious political issue, putting its future as a naval training facility in doubt. To prepare for the possibility that pre-deployment training will have to be conducted elsewhere in the future, the Secretary of the Navy tasked CNA to examine alternatives to Vieques that could be made available within approximately five years. From the perspective of the naval training community, Vieques is a facility where ships, aircraft, air wings, battle groups, amphibious ready groups, marine expeditionary units, and many of the components that make up these larger units train at sea or in the field before they deploy. So our task was to find other ways that these forces can train a at sea or in the field b before they deploy. That largely rules out simulation, except as a means of augmenting at-sea training. It also rules out overseas ranges that cannot be accessed prior to deployment. And the five-year time horizon effectively rules out new range development. What we are left with is a collection of existing U.S. ranges that lie near the eastern seaboard, along the Gulf coast, or in the Caribbean. They need not be Navy ranges--access can be negotiated--and they need not be ideal--improvements can be made. We examined existing U.S. ranges as potential alternatives to Vieques and found two promising candidates. Neither candidate has all of the capabilities of Vieques, but each has a significant subset of those capabilities. The leading candidate is a collection of ranges accessible from the Virginia Capes operating area VACAPES that includes Camp Lejeune, the Dare County and Cherry Point ranges, and also Fort Bragg. The use of Fort Bragg for live bombing has yet to be negotiated, but it seems to be the final piece of the puzzle.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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