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Makua training vital to troop preparation


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POSTED: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I applaud the Army's decision to resume training at Makua Military Reservation. As recently announced, the live-fire training at Makua will be limited and the training will not use incendiary devices such as tracers and illumination rounds to limit effects upon the environment.

As a former commander of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, 29th Brigade and the current head of the Hawaii National Guard, I wished our troops could have had access to Makua before their recent deployments. The Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 100th Battalion were mobilized for active duty in 2004-2006, and again in 2008-2009, for combat missions in Iraq and Kuwait. Because Makua was not available for small unit training of our local soldiers during those mobilizations, they were sent to bases in Texas, instead of training in Hawaii, where they could have spent more time with their families.

With Makua again a training option, we will be able to conduct initial combined arms live-fire exercises at home rather than thousands of miles away. There is no substitute for live fire as part of preparing soldiers for combat in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. You simply cannot conduct realistic training and develop young leaders for combat without live fire training.

Furthermore, Makua saves the U.S. taxpayer money. For the Oahu-based units, training at Makua means we can save at least a full day of transporting soldiers, along with all of the associated costs, to the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island. Even more savings will occur if training now done on the mainland by our units can be conducted in training areas in the State of Hawaii, especially Makua.

Regaining the use of Makua does not fulfill all of our training needs, but it takes a considerable burden off of our soldiers and their families. Let us train! The lives of our soldiers depend on this training. We will take good care of Makua when we train there.

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Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee of the Hawaii National Guard is the state's adjutant general.