Budget woes hang over isle military expansion
By William Cole
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 18, 2011
Defense planning — at least for now — points to additional troops, families and firepower arriving on Hawaii’s shores, with the state viewed as an important mid-Pacific beachhead for the United States as the balance of world economic power continues to shift from the West to the East.
How those plans will change with looming budget cuts remains to be seen. Among the examples of Hawaii’s continued military growth is the plan by Naval Special Warfare to move its mainland “undersea enterprise” units to Pearl Harbor, which has been home to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 since 1994. The consolidation over the next five years would more than double the undersea component at Pearl from 374 to 900 personnel, with 700 added dependents, the Navy said.Navy officials said there are already more than 100 SEAL commandos based here.“The U.S. military is shifting towards the Pacific” consistent with the global shift in trade — which already resulted in the Navy moving 60 percent of its attack submarine force to the Pacific and keeping six aircraft carriers in the region, a Navy planning document for the move states.
One thing that is certain is the shift in concentration of U.S. military strategy from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region. As Senator Inouye sums up:
“As far as I’m concerned, the military is in Hawaii because of its strategic placement on this planet, and it’s now being, I think, widely concluded that the area of major concern is no longer Europe and the Atlantic — it’s Asia and the Pacific,” said U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.Inouye said he believes that due to Hawaii’s strategic importance, the military here “will either increase or it will stay as it is for maybe a decade or so.”“It’s real estate that we can depend on,” Inouye said. “It’s part of the United States. We can’t insist that the Philippines do our bidding or the Japanese or the Koreans. The closest we have is Guam and Hawaii.”
So there you have it. The purpose of Hawai’i and Guam, the reason the U.S. has colonized both nations, is to do the bidding of the United States.
Military projects run the gamut
By William Cole
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 18, 2011
Here are some of the military projects planned or under way in Hawaii as the military considers reassigning assets in concert with a shift in the balance of global economic power to East Asia and the Pacific.
The Naval Special Warfare Group 3 headquarters, a training detachment, a logistics and support unit, and the Naval Special Warfare Center Advanced Training Command’s undersea training detachment are being moved here, the Navy said. A consolidation of SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2 with Team 1 in Hawaii has already occurred.
Staffing levels are expected to increase to 900 from 400. Those 500 additional personnel are expected to bring with them 700 dependents Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay will add 600 active-duty members and 400 dependents and is going through a building frenzy: The Kaneohe Bay base is adding a new multistory bachelor enlisted quarters, renovating other quarters, adding a new command facility and multilevel parking structure, and demolishing five old command post buildings.The Navy recently awarded a $52.4 million contract for the work.
Additional growth is projected with a Marine Corps plan to add significantly to its air power at Kaneohe Bay with up to 24 MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft and 18 attack and nine utility helicopters. That plan is estimated to add 1,000 more active-duty personnel and 1,106 dependents, according to an environmental report.
Fort Shafter has grown as the Army consolidated a number of its command functions in Hawai’i: In 2001, Fort Shafter had 1,194 soldier “billets,” or positions, and a total population of 4,077, including families and civilian workers.That population now stands at 6,306 military members, with a total Fort Shafter census of 13,172.
In May 2010, a $21.5 million design contract was awarded for a new 330,000-square-foot command center. At the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the Navy is expanding its “Aegis ashore” program: A fiscal 2010 military estimate for the Aegis Ashore program placed the cost at $278 million for a complex that would include a Mark 41 launcher, a four-story building with a SPY-1 radar and three 125-foot test towers. The Army plans to expand the Wheeler Army Airfield: The Army wants to build the new “combat aviation complex” at Wheeler with a parallel taxiway, new control tower, four new hangars, and new operations and headquarters facilities, among other projects.
Plans call for the new complex to be built in 17 phases over five years. The potential price tag is $1 billion, officials said.Growth and restructuring within the Army have added new personnel at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler, adding up to 1,700 more soldiers expected through 2013, according to an environmental planning report for the aviation improvements. Pearl Harbor Shipyard avoided the Base Realignment And Closure ax several years ago and is now expanding: A groundbreaking ceremony was held in July for a $15.85 million, 37,000-square-foot production services support building that the shipyard said will improve efficiency and shave six weeks off submarine overhauls.
The shipyard embarked last year on a decadelong, $1.86 billion warship modernization program to extend the life of the fleet. All three cruisers at Pearl Harbor, and its six destroyers, will undergo upgrades. And at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam: F-22 improvement projects at Hickam totaling $156 million are expected to be completed over the next four to five years, officials said.