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Live-fire weapons training concluded safe at Camp Hansen

Date Posted: 2009-02-18

The Marine Corps has concluded that live-fire training at Camp Hansen is safe, two months after two incidents involving pieces of metal alleged to be bullets coming from the military’s training range were discovered.

A bullet found lodged in a vehicle in Kin Town last December was alleged to be from a military firing range, leading the an investigation by the Marine Corps. The December 13th incident was followed on December 21st with residents showing the military another piece of metal they claimed was from a stray bullet coming from Camp Hansen.

“Neither the physical evidence nor the circumstantial evidence indicate that the piece of metal originated from our training ranges as part of any recent live-fire training,” says the Marine Corp’s spokesman, Lt. Col. Douglas Powell. The Marines say that results of a preliminary inquiry, as well as data collection by investigators brought in from Quantico in the U.S., “the Marine Corps cannot directly link the pieces of metal found on Dec. 13 and Dec. 21 to any recent Marine Corps training.”

Marine Corps Bases Japan says in a news release that given the lack of sufficient evidence, “it is safe to continue live-fire training in order to maintain operational readiness in support of the U.S. – Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.” The Marines emphasize that units conducting live-fire training are required to adhere to safety procedures, and notes unit leadership will “continue to ensure strict compliance with already established and proven live-fire safety procedures.”

The Marine Corps conducted intensive investigations into the possibility the alleged bullet found lodged in the license plate and bumper of a car in the Igei District’s Kin Town came from a live-fire range in the Central Training Area. “That investigation,” officials say, “indicated the unit conducting live-fire training at the time of the alleged incident was following all live-fire range safety procedures, which are established to prevent ordnance from exiting the confines of the training ranges.

Apart from the Marines’ initial inquiry, ballistics experts from U.S. Marine Corps Training and Education Command in Quantico, Virginia participated in the investigation January 29th ~ February 5th, meeting with Okinawa Prefectural Police and Ishikawa Police, and visually inspecting the physical evidence collected. The team from Quantico also visited the site in Igei where pieces of metal were originally discovered.

A final report from the Quantico investigators “is still being compiled, and more information will be made public at a later time,” the Marine Corps news release noted.

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