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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
February 8, 1999


As someone who grew up in San Diego's North County I am very much aware of the military presence, and it's importance to the region's economy. As a child of a career marine I am also aware of how Marines think. What I don't understand is why all the scary black helicopters.

As far as conspiracy theories go, I have never subscribed to the ominous Big Brother scenario. But with the increasing presence of military hardware circling overhead, concern seems prudent. Not only do we have to worry about gravity, there are issues such as economics and the environment that need to be considered.

Not having the numbers in front of me, I will venture out on a limb and suggest that the cost of having military personnel doing laps above Del Mar, is a costly endeavor. Are the Marines training to fight the sprawl wars of the 21st century? If they are, then it's money well spent. If not, why can't these chopper pilots train with a computer simulation, and spare us the expense and the noise.

It also takes a lot of fossil fuel to keep those whirly birds in the air. And as we all know, fossil fuels means more pollution. Considering that Uncle Sam is not at war with those of us in sunny Southern California, any additional emissions in the name of preparedness is unnecessary. Military defense should not come at the expense of the environment.

The fact that Washington is calling for an increase in the defense budget at a time when schools are overcrowded and crumbling, doesn't seem right. The war boys are convinced that throwing more money their way is the only thing that is going to keep The United States of America safe. Safe from everything but itself.

In the news recently there has been reports that domestic violence is declining everywhere except at the hands of military personnel. Then there is the story of Marines murdering wild horses in Nevada, which did not surprise me considering that during Operation Desert Storm American servicemen would use camels for target practice. Then there is the question of Napalm sitting in Fallbrook, a ticking time bomb if you will.

Historically, the military has not been what one would call a steward of the environment. More concerned with unquestioned loyalty, they usually lay waste to the environment in the name of freedom. I don't know about you, but somehow amphibious assault vehicles racing up a beach does not strike me as environmentally sensitive, nor does provoking a man on the other side of the world who has no qualms about torching oil fields. Talk about burning fossil fuels.

The military is also responsible for other forms of pollution that often go overlooked. Take for example laundry service and dry cleaning. Keeping uniforms looking there best requires a lot of water and detergents. And for dress blues, dry-cleaning is a must. And as we all know dry-cleaning solutions are highly toxic.

There is however, one benefit to having such a strong military presence in San Diego County, one that I applaud everyday. Open space. If it wasn't for the Camp Pendleton an individual would never know where Orange County ends and San Diego County begins. And I am sure that without Mira Mar all that open space would have been covered in tract homes and convenience stores a long time ago.

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