Military sizes up
About 70 people, many of whom opposeBy Kulani Mahikoa
the exercise, meet with Admiral Prueher,
who will decide whether to cancel
A decision on whether to cancel the military's plans for a Sept. 4 amphibious landing exercise at Makua Beach will be made in a few days, according to Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command.
Prueher invited Waianae Board members, Waianae citizens and members of the Hawaiian community, many of whom oppose the landing, to Camp Smith yesterday to air their views. About 70 attended, along with Gov. Ben Cayetano.
"I don't think anyone was unhappy with the meeting," said Alvin Awo, Waianae Neighborhood Board member.
Awo said the admiral "made people feel comfortable. He asked the right questions. He was a professional."
Frenchy DeSoto, a trustee with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said, "Residents did make an impression."
If the military decides to go ahead with the Makua landing, DeSoto said, "we'll do what we have to do - they'll do what they have to do.
"There is no compromise."
"This was like a town meeting," Waianae farmer Eric Enos said. "It was the first time that the Hawaiian community has met with a man of the admiral's stature."
But might doesn't make right, Enos said. If the military uses Makua as a landing base, he said, there could be civil disobedience.
A spokesman for the military, Colonel Thomas J. Boyd, chief of public affairs, Pacific Command, described the meeting as "free and informative."
He said the military offered a 30-minute visual presentation of the proposed exercises, with the remainder of the two-hour meeting devoted to hearing citizens' views.
The military plans to land 450 to 500 Marines from Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Makua Beach in amphibious vehicles.
The vehicles would cross the beach and Farrington Highway into Makua Valley.
Farrington Highway would be closed for eight hours, but it probably would only take about four hours for the Marines to complete the highway crossing, Boyd said.
He said the military has not had an operation of this size in Hawaii in 20 years.
Boyd said that Makua Valley would be used for training exercises regardless of whether Makua Beach is used as a landing site.
Bellows was looked at as an alternative site, but it's too small for the operation planned, said Lt. Colonel Kevin Krejcarek, chief of media operations, U.S. Pacific Command.
About a dozen protesters carrying signs stood outside the gates at Camp Smith while the meeting was held.
Protester Lynette Cruz represented the Ahupua'a Action Alliance, a Hawaiian environmental group.
"The bottom line is that we want the military out," Cruz said.
Another protester, Dr. Kit Glover of the American Friends Service Committee said, "An amphibious landing anywhere is the same outdated theory that problems can be solved by killing people."
Gov. Cayetano, who left the meeting early, could not be reached for comment.