PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. ARMY
An aerial view of Palm Circle at Fort Shafter shows how buildings are currently laid out at the Army post. A proposed restructuring of U.S. Army Pacific would result in construction of a new command center, which is expected to be taller than originally planned and could affect the area's visual impact.
Army weighs proposed overhaul of isle command
The public is invited to comment on an environmental report on expansion plans
FORT SHAFTER could be commanded by a four-star general for the first time since 1974 under a possible restructuring of the U.S. Army Pacific.
The last time four-star Army generals commanded the U.S. Army Pacific was between 1957 and 1974. This time, the Army is considering merging the job of the four-star general who now leads the operations in South Korea with other Pacific area responsibilities and moving the command to Fort Shafter.
That is one of the alternatives proposed as the Army restructures the U.S. Army Pacific from an administrative headquarters with no troops to a war-fighting one where its leader and subordinate commands would move to the combat zone when necessary. Fort Shafter would also gain 1,650 soldiers.
Christopher Rodney, Army spokesman, said that under the joint task force concept, the Army commander from Fort Shafter would deploy to the battle area and lead the land forces.
"The idea is to give the joint task force commander better and additional capabilities."
The Army is seeking comment on an environmental assessment on its plans to restructure Fort Shafter and locate the units there. The public has until Sept. 7 to comment on the environmental assessment. The documents are available for review at public libraries on Oahu and the Big Island.
The proposed change not only would mean an additional 1,650 soldiers, but also 450 more vehicles by the fall of 2008.
The units involved include:
» 8th Theater Support Command, which will be activated next month, and would bring 550 additional soldiers and 145 vehicles.
» 311th Signal Command and 307th Integrated Theater Signal Battalion would be moved from South Korea, bringing another 300 soldiers.
» Theater Intelligence Brigade, which would incorporate the 500th Military Intelligence Group from Schofield Barracks, with an increase of up to 1,000 soldiers.
» Medical Deployment Support Command, which will be activated in May 2008.
The Army's proposal calls for the construction of a 225,000-square-foot command and control center which would house U.S. Army Pacific Headquarters. Other parts of the command center would be a crisis action center, a secret information facility, operational areas, briefing rooms, video teleconferencing facilities, training areas, a 120-stall general parking lot and 23-stall VIP lot.
A 58,125-square-foot multistory barracks for 150 single soldiers would be built. There are now two high-rise barracks for single soldiers. The proposal does not call for the construction of any homes for married soldiers.
Because the proposal calls for 450 more vehicles, a 47,812-square-foot motor pool building as well as another 25,200 square foot storage building would be constructed.
No new training areas or weapon ranges are proposed.
The Army acknowledged in its environmental assessment that proposal "may result in significant impacts on some schools" in the area. It estimates that schools near Fort Shafter will gain 749 more students and is working with Department of Education to minimize the impact.
Palm Circle, where barracks and officers' quarters for an infantry battalion, were arranged around a parade field ringed by royal palms, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed command center is expected to be taller than originally planned and could affect the visual impact of Palm Center.
Effects on traffic would be minor, according the environmental statement, "with the exception of parking." To compensate the Army may build a multilevel parking structure, alternate on-post parking and parking at Fort Shafter Flats with shuttle service to the main post.
As the oldest Army post on Oahu Fort Shafter now has 1,290 active-duty personnel, 1,010 family members and 700 civilian workers.
Fort Shafter opened in 1907 and is named after Maj. Gen. William Shafter, who led the United States expedition to Cuba in 1898.
RESTRUCTURING AT A GLANCE
A summary of what would be added to Fort Shafter under the restructuring of the U.S. Army Pacific:
» 1,650 soldiers and 450 vehicles by fall 2008.
» A 225,000-square-foot command and control center to house U.S. Army Pacific Headquarters would be built.
» A 58,125-square-foot, multistory barracks for single soldiers.
» A 47,812-square-foot motor pool building.
» A 25,200-square-foot storage building.
Source: U.S. Army