Protests Continue in Sicily at US Space Tech Base
A hundred miles off the coast of Africa, the American military has built a base in Niscemi, Sicily. Behind the cordoned-off facility, there is a new war instrument called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).
MUOS is used for drone-to-Earth communication. The MUOS is an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) (300 MHz to 3 GHz frequency range) SATCOM system, primarily serving the Pentagon. Intended primarily for mobile users (e.g. aerial and maritime platforms, ground vehicles, and dismounted soldiers), MUOS will extend users' voice, data, and video communications beyond their lines-of-sight.
The MUOS system includes four ground station facilities. The four ground stations, each of which serves one of the four active satellites of the MUOS constellation will be located at: the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station at Kojarena about 30 km east of Geraldton, Western Australia; Naval Radio Transmitter Facility (NRTF) Niscemi about 60 km from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy; Naval SATCOM Facility, Northwest Chesapeake, Southeast Virginia; and the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific, Hawaii.
Along with transmitter stations in Virginia, Hawaii and Australia, the MUOS bases will function as a relay station for instantaneous multimedia communication between U.S. armed forces personnel stationed around the world.
According to journalist Antonio Mazzeo Due, “The MUOS embodies the many contradictions of neoliberal globalization. It kills in the name of peace and order. It destroys the climate, the environment, the land. It squanders human and financial resources.”
Sicilian activists are against the military exploitation of their land and have been organizing to fight against the MUOS. For the No MUOS resistance Sicily is a bridge of peace between Africa and Europe.
High power broadcast transmitters at mobile frequencies are the source of concern among the local residents, who fear cancer-inducing effects and other health hazards. The environmental impact of the station is also a source of concern. Niscemi is home to “la Sughereta”, a nature reserve containing one of the few wild cork oak woods still left in the country.