Zinke: Mariana islands are 'not forgotten'

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, left, talks to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke while they inspect the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park in Saipan. Photo by Jonathan Perez.

Saipan —Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made a brief stop to Saipan Thursday, a trip underscoring the equal importance of the territories in the Pacific especially in terms of national security.

“Because it is important, the frontline of the territories, we want to make sure that you’ve seen the shining light on the hill, the beacon,” Zinke said during his Saipan visit after his trip to Guam. “We want to make sure that this is the shining light at sea too and that the islands are not forgotten. How they [territories] could create their economies. I’m happy to see that Saipan, the CNMI, is doing well; but there’s always an opportunity to do it better.”

Guam and the CNMI are strategically important to national and regional security. Both are in close proximity to East Asia, where tension between China and its neighbors continues.

The U.S. military has the Anderson Air Force Base north of the island nation with the Naval Base Guam at the western portion. Both military installations form the Joint Region Marianas, headed by its commander Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield. The U.S. Department of Defense has also chosen the island of Tinian as the location for its planned divert activities and other exercises.