Army should rethink Stryker Brigade quest
A federal judge is considering the Army's proposal to begin construction projects tied to the Stryker Brigade in Hawaii.
THE Army's maneuver aimed at dodging an appellate court's ruling so it can proceed with its Stryker Brigade project in Hawaii has fallen short. The federal judge whose ruling was overturned on appeal fell into line this week and advised the Army to provide information sought by its adversaries
about Stryker options. The Army should reconsider its tactics before trying to become entrenched on shaky legal ground.
District Judge David Ezra's ruling, following last month's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversing his earlier decision, leaves the Pentagon with two options: Consider moving the Stryker training to the West Coast or prepare for a lengthy battle. Its goal of converting a brigade of the 25th Infantry Division into a Stryker force near its Schofield Barracks base and the Big Island would take years to resolve.
A 9th Circuit panel ruled that the Army had violated basic environmental law by neglecting to consider alternatives to installing the brigade in Hawaii. The unit would be comprised of more than 300 24-ton, eight-wheeled armored vehicles complemented by Commanche helicopters and 155-mm howitzers.
The Army wants to proceed with six construction projects to support the brigade while Ezra considers a request by three community groups who brought the lawsuit that they be provided information about the projects. The Army agreed in 2004 that it would refrain from proceeding with such projects in the absence of a broader ruling in support of the Stryker placement.
The recent rulings are a setback not only for the Army. Three years ago, when the Pentagon approved the project, Rep. Neil Abercrombie celebrated the hundreds of millions of dollars the Army would spend in Hawaii. Abercrombie will become a House Armed Services subcommittee chairman next month and should bring pressure on the Army to resolve the issue.
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