Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Stryker brigade leads
isle military funding

Hawaii construction accounts for
$274M of the defense budget

The Pentagon is requesting $114.8 million for Schofield Barracks' new Stryker mobile combat brigade, nearly 42 percent of the $274.3 million earmarked in President Bush's budget for military construction in Hawaii, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday.

Last year, the president asked for $203.7 million in new military construction in the islands, but that amount was increased to nearly $333 million after lawmakers added their pet projects.

This year, the Bush administration wants to spend $41 million to upgrade Drum Road -- now a single-lane, 23-mile dirt road connecting Wahiawa near Schofield Barracks to the Army's training grounds in Kahuku. Last year, Congress approved $27 million to begin renovating the road.

Two of this year's Stryker projects are proposed for the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area, with $34 million for a battle area complex and another $9.3 million for a vehicle wash facility.

At Schofield, the Pentagon has proposed spending an additional $30 million this year to modify the complex designed to train soldiers to fight in close urban situations and build a Stryker vehicle maintenance facility.

The Army plans to spend $1.5 billion over the next decade to convert the Tropic Lightning's 2nd Brigade when its more than 3,500 soldiers return from a yearlong combat tour in Iraq next month. The unit is expected to be operational by spring 2006. It would be the fifth of six Stryker combat units with a total 300 Strykers, 100 other vehicles and trailers, and 810 more soldiers.

The 2nd Brigade will be organized around the $2 million eight-wheeled, 19-ton Stryker vehicles. The rubber-tire Stryker vehicle comes in 10 variations and each can carry up to 11 soldiers.

The president's proposed military budget also includes $48 million for new barracks at Schofield Barracks.

For the other services, the defense bill proposes:

» $5.7 million for a Camp Smith fire station and $29.7 million to design a war-fighting staff instruction facility at Ford Island.
» $5.7 million to build an intelligence squadron operations facility, $2.5 million for a rinse facility for Hawaii Air National Guard's F-15 combat jets and $6.4 million for an Air Force reserve training building at Hickam Air Force Base.
» $61.4 million to replace a security operations center at Kunia for the National Security Agency.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie

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