Armys top civilian tellsBy Gregg K. Kakesako
isle troops theyre valued
For the past seven months since being named secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera has logged 100,000 miles visiting soldiers with the same message: "We want them, we need them and we appreciate the things they do."
Yesterday, the Army's top civilian head made his first stop in Hawaii. He added there is hope because President Clinton, in his State of the Union address Tuesday, proposed spending $110 billion over the next six years with a good portion of the money set aside for raises and fixes to the retirement system.
Caldera said there is now a mood in Washington that the Pentagon and the Congress may provide several billion additional dollars to repair aging weaponry and bases.
At 42, Caldera, who served for five years in the California Legislature, oversees an annual budget of $59 billion, 1.2 million uniformed and civilian employees and military bases that span 25 million acres.
He is a one-time military policeman, who graduated from West Point and went on to earn a law degree and master's in business administration from Harvard University.
He has addressed more than 25,000 troops and shared turkey during Thanksgiving with Army soldiers in South Korea and Japan.
For an Army stretched to the limit, Caldera's morale-boosting trips have been seen as attempts to lift a service racked with budget woes, downsizing, numerous back-to-back overseas deployments and reduced combat capabilities.
Meeting with reporters yesterday at Schofield Barracks before he visited 25th Infantry Division soldiers training, Caldera said today's troopers are concerned about pay and retirement benefits, better management of their time since many of them are constantly deployed to places like Bosnia and Haiti and better equipment and opportunities to train.
Military leaders and Clinton have proposed a 4.4 percent raise in the year 2000 and 3.9 percent each year for the next five years. Military leaders also want to rescind a 1986 law that cut retirement benefits to 40 percent of a soldier's base pay, restoring the figure to 50 percent.
Other concerns voiced by soldiers have included health care, educational benefits for military spouses, promotion, and the adequacy of their children's' schools.
Caldera said the islands are "critical to supporting U.S. interests in this part of the world.
"This is the largest region stretching all the way from the West Coast of the United States to as far as Indonesia. You have some tense situations in North Korea and you've got countries like China with which we would like to have a closer relationship.
"Hawaii is right in the middle of that area and provides places where we can train and places from which we can deploy."
Prisoner of War medal givenStar-Bulletin
to former land board chief Paty
William Paty, retired sugar company executive and former chairman of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, received another honor recently when he was awarded the Prisoner of War medal by Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera.
Paty, a World War II paratrooper who was taken prisoner by the Germans during the June 1944 Normandy invasion, was held for a year in captivity until he escaped on his third attempt on Jan. 22, 1945.
Paty was presented the medal Tuesday at a ceremony at Elemendoff Air Force Base in Alaska before members of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, his old Army unit.
He has been a civilian aide to Caldera representing Hawaii since 1994 and yesterday was named to an at-large post. Paty will serve as liaison between the civilian community and the Army.