Under the Sun
Hawaii and the military have reciprocal obligations
A show of hands, please, of those who doubted the Army would conclude that the ideal place to station a Stryker combat brigade is in Hawaii.
Another show of hands for those who were uncertain that the Army's study of radiation from depleted uranium at military sites here would determine that the levels weren't a health risk.
I don't imagine there are a lot of palms up because if the past is any indication, people in these fair islands know which side of the bread is buttered. And we are grateful.
Despite some political leaders being in heavy denial, the state is headed for harder times what with the alarming pace of increases in oil prices, which threatens lifeblood tourism, food and everything indispensable for existence on ocean-trapped islands.
Hawaii has always been able to rely on the flow of military money to sustain the economy -- in fact, there would be no state of Hawaii if not for the military -- and the Stryker's flood of funds for a mass of projects will keep us afloat.
Let us count the cash. The Army will spend $30 million to put up a simulated city for drills that includes homes, a school, hotel, even a graveyard. Another $30 million will go toward a new live-fire range, $8 million to modernize an existing one and $7 million to buy land for a road between Schofield Barracks and Helemano Military Reservation. The construction industry is grateful.
But wait, there's more. Upcoming will be another road from the Dillingham Military Reservation to Schofield that will keep the 19-ton Stryker vehicles off city streets, for which Oahu's traffic-plagued, pothole-dodging drivers ought to be grateful.
Stationing the brigade here will bring 4,000 soldiers and presumably their families to add to the state's population. Though most of them will probably live in military quarters, surely some will opt for homes off base, which was one problem the Army cited in rejecting a Washington state base for the brigade. The Army said the region near Fort Lewis was "critically short" on housing, not a concern here because shortages are limited to the "affordable" variety. Local developers and the real estate industry will be grateful.
So, too, might be proponents of halting training in Makua Valley. After decades of being battered and burned, the Army is hinting Makua may not be needed anymore; it has other acres to pummel.
People who live on the northern segment of the Big Island should also give thanks. The Air Force, which planned low-altitude training runs of noisy C-17 jets along a corridor from Hamakua in the east to Waimea and points west, has changed its mind. If and when it gets funds for a new airstrip in Kona, the Air Force could revive its plans.
For now, residents there won't be bothered like people who live near the Marine base in Kaneohe. But at least air traffic at Kaneohe is limited to 16 hours on weekdays and nine hours on Saturdays, leaving complete Sundays for quiet time.
A final show of hands of those who acknowledge the need for proper training of the armed forces and for places to conduct military exercises. I imagine all hands held high. I also imagine that the military gratefully and greatly acknowledges there is a sacrifice being made here and that there is a reciprocal obligation to treat Hawaii's land and seas sensitively.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org