Time to remedy Growler noise harms | Guest Column

Submitted by Anne Harvey, Board Chair, Sound Defense Alliance.

Our nation faces many challenges.

It has been decades since we have watched the horrors of war on the evening news. The atrocities of the war in Ukraine are a harsh reminder of the fragility of peace and prosperity in our world.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the future of military action. While the Sound Defense Alliance supports the national security mission of the EA18-G “Growler” electronic attack aircraft and the robust training that enables our pilots to be the best in the world, we also recognize that the national security mission to protect US citizens should not simultaneously put American people and places at risk.

There is a lot to learn from this war. News reports show increased use of newer technologies like drones and missiles, while manned aircraft are playing a secondary role. In addition, the logic of single siting should be called into question when a Growler squadron is deployed from West Coast Naval Air Station Whidbey Island to Germany.

We are advocating for Growler pilots to train in safe locations that avoid negatively impacting civilians, fragile environments, and wildlife. We have experienced and research documents the physical harm caused from Growler jet noise, including increases in cardiovascular disease, strokes, heart attacks, increased stress and hearing impairment, Triggering of PTSD, and impacts on children’s learning. In1998, a Department of Defense report determined that Whidbey was not an appropriate site for Growler Jets. Without regard for their own report, in 2019 the Navy increased the number of Growlers and operations at NASWI from 6120 in 2018 to 23,800 in 2022, despite Navy documents stating that NAS El Centro in California provided a “higher quality of training than could be achieved at either Ault Field or Coupeville … .” [GRR 121559]. The Navy knows this and chooses to ignore more appropriate places for Growler jet training.

We call on our Congressional Delegation to hold the Navy accountable to their own policies and research. They must be part of the remedy to finding the balance between military excellence and local collateral damage in the U.S. . Washington’s global leadership in technology and aeronautic industries can be leveraged to advocate for NASWI to advance military technology that reduces harm to people and the planet. This base could be a focal point for the development of Next Generation military equipment

like the drones and missiles being used by the Ukrainian army. This plan could produce a win/win where we attract cutting-edge businesses to support the new technologies necessary to build a thriving economy while reducing the noise impacts threatening it.

We live in uncertain times. We must learn from the horrific circumstances in Ukraine. We encourage our elected officials to recognize that it is time to evolve our military practices toward global national security while protecting the health and well-being of people in the United States. Please join us by visiting https://sounddefensealliance.org/.