GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Brown III gave a report on the Army's activities in Hawaii and the Pacific at yesterday's Hawaii Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. CLICK FOR LARGE
Makua alternatives to be in Army report
An impact statement will come this year, the Pacific leader says
The Army will report to Congress this spring on what options remain if it has to stop using Makua Military Reservation as a live-fire training range.
Lt. Gen. John Brown III, commander of all Army forces in the Pacific, said the report was requested by Congress and will be sent first to senior Army leaders in the Pentagon.
Brown made a progress report of Army activities in Hawaii and the Pacific Basin to a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. He said the long-overdue environmental impact statement -- which was supposed to be completed in October 2004 justifying the continued use of Makua Valley -- should be completed late this year.
"Makua today is very, very important," Brown said. "It allows the company- and platoon-level live-fire exercises that are necessary to have these units at the cutting edge of readiness."
Because of lawsuits, the Army has been forced to send its soldiers for this kind of training out of the state, Brown said. The last time live ammunition was fired in the 4,190-acre Makua training range was in August 2004.
Brown said his report will outline "what other training capabilities would have to be provided inside Hawaii to allow us not to use Makua for live-fire training."
As for the future of Schofield Barracks' 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Brown said training will resume this week following a federal court ruling last month that allowed a minimal amount of training to prepare the unit to deploy to Iraq in the fall.
The Army was ordered last fall by an appeals court in San Francisco to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement justifying why only Hawaii was selected as a place to locate and train a Stryker unit.
That notice was published in the Federal Register yesterday, and meetings will be held to allow public input into the process.
Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf, U.S. Pacific Command deputy commander, said most of the major changes planned in the Pacific Basin will not be in Hawaii.
The biggest change will take place on Guam, where the U.S. plans to relocate 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa. The turnover will result in $14 billion worth of construction projects on Guam, with some of the money coming from Japan.