Inouye warnsU.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye issued a warning today that major opposition to continue training in Makua Valley may force the military to close bases and move troops out of state.
Makua ban could
lead to military loss
It could force the Army to close
bases and move troops
out of Hawaii
By Gregg Kakesako
In an address this morning to the Military Affairs Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Inouye (D-Hawaii) said that besides Makua on the Waianae Coast, the military trains at the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area and at Bellow's Air Force Station in Waimanalo.
However, if the military is not allowed to use the 456-acre training area in Makua -- which it has controlled since World War II -- and is forced to fly its soldiers to Pohakuloa, the Pentagon may find it to be too expensive and close bases.
Inouye predicted that if the 25th Division was taken out of Hawaii and sent to Fort Lewis in Washington state, "Wahiawa would become a ghost town."
"The military budget is not determined by the threat level," Inouye said. "It is determined by money."
If military planners begin to see that the cost of operating in these islands is exceedingly high, these military policy-makers will have second thoughts, he said.
"Because if I were a commanding officer, I would not under any circumstances take my men into combat without training," he said.
Inouye said he realizes that he is stepping into a "contentious issue" but he feels that he has to respond to the demands by certain Waianae coast residents that the Makua Valley training area be closed.
The Army recently completed an environmental assessment in its attempt to resume training at Makua, which was suspended in 1998. The Army maintains that there will be no significant impact on the environment or the cultural and historical sites found in the valley under a modified training proposal it wishes to undertake, beginning in March.
However, Malama Makua, a Waianae coast activist group, has filed suit calling on the Army to prepare a more comprehensive and more expensive environmental impact statement.
A hearing in federal court on the lawsuit is scheduled for Feb. 6.
Inouye said the military "has been very sensitive to our needs," to the extent that they were even willing to give up Kahoolawe -- a major naval target area -- because native Hawaiian groups wanted it returned.