Army buys land to train on Big Isle
The 24,000 acres will be part of land used for training with Stryker vehicles
Parker Ranch has agreed to sell to the Army some 24,000 acres of Big Island land for $31.5 million as part of the buildup for Schofield Barracks' 19-ton, eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicles.
Bob McElory, spokesman for the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area, said the land will be used by Strykers, soldiers and Marines for non-live-fire maneuvers.
Currently, "Parker Ranch uses the area for grazing," McElroy added.
The acreage will be added to the Pohakuloa Training Area's 109,000 acres, McElroy said, adding that it "gives us more room for training for mounted and foot patrols."
The Army still has to build roads, trails, firebreaks and water tanks in the area, he said.
Troy Griffin, Schofield Barracks spokesman, said yesterday that 50 of the 319 Stryker combat vehicles are already here. All of the vehicles will be assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which also has received an additional 1,000 soldiers.
Griffin said the Army hopes the 2nd Brigade will be operational next year.
Each Stryker costs between $1.3 million and $1.5 million and can carry nine soldiers and two crew members.
The Army has committed more than $700 million in construction projects on Oahu and the Big Island to support the Strykers.
Environmentalists have filed an appeal on the Strykers' environmental impact review process with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Once operational, the Strykers could be transported within 96 hours to anywhere in the world on any of the eight C-17 Globemaster jet cargo planes now stationed at Hickam Air Force Base. One C-17 can carry three Strykers, which are named after Medal of Honor recipients Spc. Robert Stryker, who was killed in Vietnam; and Pfc. Stuart Stryker, killed in World War II.