Before the exercises, local public frustration about the lack of use of the large portion of Tinian Island leased by the US Defense Department had been running high. On 27 February, CNMI Governor Benigno R. Fitial sent a letter to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking to renegotiate the 100 year lease on land covering 65 percent of the area of Tinian Island because the department had not developed the area 35 years after the lease began. After a minor backlash, the Governor backed off slightly, calling the letter "tongue-in-cheek." However, his frustration appeared to be widely shared, with even enthusiastic local officials on Tinian Island including words like "finally" and "it's about time" in their comments on the start of Operation Geiger Fury.
Local media reports have also highlighted a new proposal for the combined stationing and training of Japanese and US troops on Tinian Island. [For an in-depth analysis of this proposal, see Exovera's special report.] A fact-finding mission by a nine member delegation from Japan's Ministry of Defense to Tinian Island garnered widepread local coverage. Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz was particularly enthusiastic about the prospect after meeting with the delegation. He praised not only the potential positive economic benefit, but also the historic impact of such a move: “If the Japanese Self Defense Force and the Americans train together as allies, this will be history in the making. They were once bitter enemies during the war and now they are coming back as allies to preserve security in the region. […] Now we are the strongest of allies. It would be historic and heartwarming to see American Marines and Japanese soldiers training side-by-side on Tinian today.”
In a hypothetical outbreak of hostility between the US and China, a substantial US military presence on Tinian Island - especially if combined with a Japanese military presence - could make the Northern Mariana Islands vulnerable to Chinese attack. However, in the minds of local residents and officials, the immediate and concrete economic benefits that would accrue to the local economy from the presence of US and Japanese forces are likely to far outweigh the risk of any such worst-case scenario. The US and Japan are thus unlikely to face significant local opposition should they choose to move forward with the combined stationing proposal.