National Guard Wants to Expand Its Training Site to Twice the Size of Chicago

Nestled close to the headwaters of the Au Sable River in Northern Decrease Michigan, in lands forcibly taken from the Odawa and Ojibwa, the Michigan Military Nationwide Guard (MIANG) at the moment operates the biggest Nationwide Guard coaching website within the nation, Camp Grayling. At 230 sq. miles, it may match Detroit (139 sq. miles), Lansing (37 sq. miles), and Grand Rapids (45 sq. miles) safely inside its footprint. Along with the Military and Nationwide Guard, the world is utilized by police departments, prisons, non-public army contractors, and international army items.

In January of 2022, the Nationwide Guard proposed expanding its Land Use Agreement with the state by a staggering 250 sq. miles, bringing its dimension to 490 sq. miles, or about twice the dimensions of Chicago. That is occurring on the identical time the Air Nationwide Guard is in search of individually to expand operations over Northern Michigan and Lake Huron, possible in live performance with the proposed growth of Camp Grayling.

MIANG claims that the extra space is required to conduct coaching in area, cyber, and digital warfare. In keeping with Col. Scott Meyers, the camp’s commander, these distances are important to simulate what troops will encounter on the battlefield and to maintain actions on the base separated. Officers have repeatedly claimed the actions will likely be “low affect,” and that there’ll solely be intermittent closures to the general public.

However this ignores the already well-documented failure of the Nationwide Guard to dwell as much as its personal purported requirements.

Environmental Considerations

PFAS contamination at Camp Grayling was first found by the army in 2016, although the chemical had been in use for many years on the bottom as a fireplace and mud suppressant. PFAS, typically described as a “eternally chemical” because of the extraordinarily very long time it takes for the chemical to interrupt down within the setting, is linked to various health issues similar to cancers, excessive ldl cholesterol, and developmental issues in kids. It’s significantly worrisome as a result of it might probably dissolve in water, making it very troublesome to take away as soon as an space has been contaminated.

In 2019, the wells of 1,100 native residents had been examined, and 300 got here again optimistic for PFAS. The army solely paid for 18 of those properties to have their water rerouted to the municipal provide, whereas the remaining 282 properties obtain faucet water filters sometimes from the well being division.

Native residents have reported feeling deserted, with some reporting visible foam and chemical construct up on our bodies of water close to their properties. There’s actual concern amongst locals that this may increasingly echo the Air Pressure’s refusal to take responsibility for PFAS contamination attributable to their actions round Wurtsmith Air Base in Oscoda, simply 70 miles east.

Even bureaucrats inside the state are speaking out. District Supervisor for the Michigan Division of Setting, Nice Lakes, and Vitality’s (EGLE) Remediation and Redevelopment Division in Gaylord, in a December 22 letter to the appearing PFAS program supervisor for the Military Nationwide Guard’s Cleanup and Restoration Department, wrote that DNR officers ought to reject the growth of Camp Grayling because of the Guard’s “incapability to take well timed motion to research, mitigate, and remediate vital areas of contamination at Camp Grayling.” When requested about this, Col. Meyers known as the PFAS points and the Land Use Settlement “two utterly separate points.” He claims the Guard not makes use of “any of these chemical substances” and that PFAS wouldn’t be used on the bottom transferring ahead. Though it was reported as not too long ago as July that EGLE despatched a violation notice to the Guard for allegedly discharging stormwater contaminated with PFOS (a selected sort of PFAS chemical) right into a lake.

Presently, the U.S. army is likely one of the most egregious polluters ever to have existed on the planet. Since 2001, the army has produced over 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gasses and accounts for over 80 % of the federal authorities’s gasoline consumption. If we put aside the problem of PFAS/PFOS solely, you’re nonetheless left with the air pollution from the operation and upkeep of all the tools and equipment, together with planes and helicopters, the destruction and clearing of pure areas, and the disruption of each animal and resident populations with noise from flyovers, gunfire, and artillery.

To not point out that though the Guard has agreed to maintain a 1,500-foot buffer from our bodies of water like lakes and rivers, this crucially doesn’t embrace delicate wetlands, on which a lot of Camp Grayling already sits. Because of this the native water system continues to be underneath very extreme menace from spillage of different chemical substances, metals, or jet gasoline.

Growth of Surveillance and Management

Camp Grayling, along with being a army coaching heart, is a hub for police departments, international militaries, and personal contractors. In 2020, the Nationwide All-Area Conflict-Combating Heart (NADWC) was established by the Michigan Nationwide Guard. It encompasses Camp Grayling, the Alpena Fight Readiness Coaching Heart, the Selfridge Air Nationwide Guard Base in Harrison Township, and the Battle Creek Air Nationwide Guard Base. The purpose of the NADWC is basically to make Nationwide Guard installations enticing locations for personal contractors or the Division of Protection to check new applied sciences.

In an article in DBusiness journal, Col. Meyers was quoted as saying “Ever since we unveiled NADWC, my telephone has been ringing off the hook with non-public business attempting to get into this area. And the benefit is that we’ve loads of availability and loads of land for folk to come back out right here and play.”

The proposed growth would enable for elevated use and testing of recent applied sciences, significantly these dubbed as Digital Warfare (EW). These embrace surveillance instruments developed by non-public firms like Palantir, that are additionally offered as “off the shelf” options for regulation enforcement, DHS, or company clients. It has been reported that entry to NADWC amenities and experience prices as little as $147 per day, making this a really value efficient alternative for these inside the army industrial complicated.

Camp Grayling additionally homes the Northern Michigan Law Enforcement Training Group, which touts 75 regulation enforcement companies from the area amongst its members. They’ve a everlasting coaching heart on the grounds of Camp Grayling full with a 2.25 km sq. mock city, the place police get skilled on utilizing tactical firearms and concrete assault strategies.

These applied sciences have change into commonplace domestically for coping with protests and basic unrest. One of many authors of the zine “The Base Among The Jack Pine” aptly described the state of affairs:

Through the 2020 George Floyd Rebellion, state regulation enforcement, varied federal companies, and the Nationwide Guard continuously used EW ways to manage crowds, surveil protestors, and help in counterinsurgency operations. The LRAD that many state forces used continuously in an try and actual compliance, by ache, from rowdy crowds are a Direct Vitality Weapon. Stingrays and dirtboxes that snooped on folks’s digital knowledge, ripping figuring out and typically incriminating info, are an EMS surveillance tactic. EW workout routines performed at Camp Grayling will undoubtedly play a task in advances in AI and machine studying capabilities that can make these already sinister ways quicker, extra correct, and simpler.

The army has repeatedly achieved nothing however obfuscate its many failures, and keep away from duty, and has made solely essentially the most minor efforts at remediation when compelled to take action. They’ve proven contempt for native residents, and have given no cause to consider that issues could also be totally different sooner or later.

An growth of Camp Grayling is an growth of the equipment that cages, surveils, and punishes us. It exemplifies the ever creeping nature of the surveillance state and its varied appendages. Quietly, with the patina of legitimacy afforded by “public remark intervals” and all the different bureaucratic licensing, credentialing, and “transparency,” we’re all inspired to welcome the testing and growth of apparatus that can inevitably discover its methods onto our streets and into our neighborhoods, developed by people who find themselves at finest apathetic to the destruction of the pure world round us. However for those who’re one of many fortunate ones, you would possibly get a free water filter for all the difficulty.