Downsizing The U.S. Army In Hawaii Can Hurt Us


In reference to the October 6 report by Honolulu Star-Advetiser writer  William Cole who slugged “Downsizing of Army could affect the isles” (subtitled “The state must show it wants forces here, says the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii”), Hawaii’s TRAINING FACILITIES are, in my opinion, the key to prevent the Army from packing and leaving in toto. If local enviro-extremists succeed in infringing on existing opportunities for such training (especially live fire training) any more than they already have, the Army may find itself unable to justify the expense of staying in these islands.

As noted in the memoirs of two recent Defense Secretaries (Gates and Panetta), the sequestration budgetary squeeze is merciless and ongoing. The current Secretary of Defense Hagel is now asking Congress for a new round of base closures to further reduce spending.

Lacking another Pearl Harbor scale attack necessitating a renewal of the draft – – and without Senator Dan Inouye to protect the pork he brought home in such abundance for decades – – there is a good chance most, if not all, of these Army installations in our island state may be significantly downsized if not eliminated altogether.

In that case only an even more severely downsized U.S. Marine Corps would have the forced entry capability to justify keeping a small residual force in our state. The Army would have to “jump off” from the West Coast of the U.S. mainland with attendant – – very likely unacceptable – – delays in reaching any western Pacific combat theater in response to one or more developing threats.

Because of the painful ’tyranny of distance’ my surmise is that the Navy will bend every effort to retain a presence at Pearl Harbor for as long as possible – – primarily for fuel, shipyard repair, and other provisioning capabilities not available at Midway or Guam – – even as sequestration is now grinding the Fleet down to pre-WWI levels. Especially is this the case for our Pacific submarine force which will be stretched like a banjo string if multiple threats develop west of 160 degree East longitude (the chop line meridian at which a ship changes operational command jurisdiction – – beyond which Com7th Fleet runs the show). With fewer Navy surface combatants, amphibs, and auxiliaries home ported here or even stopping by occasionally en route to WestPac, the number of Navy related jobs can be expected to shrink considerably with a concomitant economic impact.

In the worst case in which the Army would pull up stakes and leave, the impact on our fragile economy would be severe as I do not believe the revenue form the visitor industry could take up the slack. This would mean the extravagant social welfare (that encourages even the able bodied to avoid employment) which the Democrat Party has cobbled together over the last 60 years would suddenly run out of other people’s money to “redistribute”.

One last bit of meat to chew on this bone: if the Army leaves and both the Navy and the Air Force are substantially reduced leaving only a small Marine Corps residual force, CincPac might well relocate to a mainland location due to budgetary limitations. That would be a LOT of clout and influence to lose, further relegating this remote mid-Pac island state to insignificance and, in extremis, expendable.

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Tom Stuart resided in Makaha during his time in the U.S. Navy and as a teacher at Waianae Intermediate School. His experiences in a 21-year Navy Career included duty as an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) diver/team leader, a surface warfare officer with seven campaign stars on his Viet Nam Service ribbon, and a weapons computer simulation wargamer in Washington D.C. After leaving the Navy, he spent ten years as a tech service contractor for defense buildup of various military branches. After 30 years of working with military, he turned to teaching math in the public schools. During his very first year in the classroom, he credits Waianae students for helping him to become an effective teacher. He later moved to the big island of Hawaii and taught at Kohala Middle School for 12 years.


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