The United States Armed Forces have trained in various areas of the United States for as long as they have been in existence. The Army Green Berets have trained in the ideal terrain provided by the Pacific Northwest Coast of Oregon and Washington for many years, but the Navy SEALs have been halted from pursuing their plans of using these state’s parks as their ninja training locations. The Navy planned to use about two dozen parks in the state for nighttime ninja training, but an activist group fought against this decision, and a judge finally sided with them.
The Navy has been training in some of the recreational areas for over 30 years, but activities were paused due to organized opposition to the renewal of their five-year contract that expired in 2020. The Navy SEAL training permission was rescinded by Judge James L. Dixon in the Superior Court of Thurston County. He ruled that state law does not give the parks and recreation commission the power to allow state parks to be used for military purposes. The Army Green Beret training continued in the state, just 70 miles away in Astoria, Oregon, with very little attention or outcry. Both Washington and Oregon provide valuable training grounds for special operations troops.
One main difference between the approach of these two branches of service seems to be that the Army coordinates with the property owners about the use of their land and facilities. Those opposed to the Navy’s use of state parks had concerns about SEALs making amphibious landings, carrying simulated weapons, and creepily lurking in the dark, which could cause upsetting commotions, and stop some people from using the parks. The SEALs are trained to be essentially ninja, and it is feared that this would have an adverse impact on recreation even if users never saw them at night.
Domestic political tensions were evoked in Judge Dixon’s ruling against the Navy citing several violent situations to help prove his point, from the insurrection of January 6, to the Russian war in Ukraine. He also stated that the parks commission had failed to think about the creep factor of allowing SEALs to infiltrate recreational areas, which would have a negative effect on patron enjoyment of the park.