U.S. ARMY PHOTO / APRIL 2003|
A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, in Fort Lewis, Wash., is offloaded from an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft at Bicycle Lake Army Airfield at the U.S. Army's National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., for a training mission.
to draw picketers
A talk about a new isle
combat brigade is open
to invitees only
The Army will hold a closed-door invitation-only briefing in Hilo on Wednesday on its plans to expand its training needs as it gears up to bring a Stryker brigade combat team to the 25th Infantry Division.
Big Island demonstrators plan to picket the meeting beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel on Banyan Drive to protest the Army's expansion plans at the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area.
"No democracy by invitation only," said a statement released by peace activist James Albertini, who the Army said is invited to attend the meeting that is not open to the media.
"The issues affect our entire community, and both the public and the press should be invited to participate," Albertini's statement said.
Maj. Stacy Bathrick, 25th Division spokeswoman, said Friday that Army regulations allow such a closed-door briefing, which is expected to be attended by 60 Big Island community and business leaders and politicians. She said Albertini, Hawaii County Council members, lawmakers representing the Big Island and representatives of organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and various community organizations as well as state and county officials have been invited.
Bathrick said: "Hosting these types of events is intended to promote positive community relations between the military and the civilian community.
"The Army hosts this forum to encourage an open dialogue with the business and government leaders on the subject of transformation in Hawaii."
Last week, the Senate approved $17.5 million to begin to acquire the more than 400 new combat Stryker vehicles that will be assigned to Schofield Barracks over the next decade. The money for the Schofield unit is contained in the $369.2 billion Defense Appropriations bill for next year.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said the money is in addition to the $71.8 million moved by the same Senate Appropriations Committee last month to fund four projects at Schofield Barracks to support the Stryker brigade. The Schofield construction projects are to accommodate the new 19-ton, eight-wheeled Stryker armored vehicles and the additional training needs the new brigade would require.
The Stryker brigades are the legacy of retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who in 1999 set the Army on a course that over a 30-year period it would be able to respond to small-scale contingencies or major war rapidly. That plan called for deploying a brigade of 3,900 soldiers in four days and a division of 16,000 soldiers in five days.
Four of the Stryker brigades have been funded. The decision to advance two more, including one in Hawaii, is expected to be made sometime this month.
The Army is reviewing an environmental impact statement outlining effects of establishing a brigade in Hawaii and on training areas here and on the Big Island.