The Hawaii Tribune Herald reports that Governor Abercrombie, once a black-beret-wearing campus radical, is offering up virgin areas of Hawaiʻi to service the military:
Abercrombie floated the possibility of building public-private housing in West Hawaii for military families who will relocate from Okinawa when the Marine base there moves sometime in the next few years. That base was scheduled to relocate in 2014 but it has been delayed.
Abercrombie said he had similar military housing in his former house district on Oahu, which helped lead to the lowest unemployment rate in the country — he said it was 2 percent at one point.
Another possibility could be off-base housing for troops preparing for deployment at the increasingly strategic Pohakuloa Training Area.
“PTA will be the center for training in the Pacific in the 21st century,” Abercrombie said.
“It’s an interesting concept,” said Lt. Col. Rolland Niles, the Pohakuloa Training Area Garrison Commander. Niles said an off-base area with a military exchange and other amenities would be welcome.
“It could be a tremendous opportunity,” he said.
The big news – oddly missing from media reports – was Gov. Abercrombie’s pronouncements about current plans (now largely underway) to move tens of thousands of Marines from Okinawa. “The idea was to take the Marines out of Okinawa and move them to Guam,” Abercrombie said. “But there’s no way that’s going to work.”
According to the Governor, Guam’s all wrong. “They don’t have the infrastructure; they don’t have the capacity; they don’t have the space to train; and they don’t have the EIS. It’s not going to work.”
And, of course, he has an alternative in mind: Pohakuloa on the Big Island. After all, he points out, Pohakuloa is already a major training facility; it’s near the Pacific Command and the resources of Pearl Harbor and Schofield Barracks; and, most importantly, it’s in Hawaii. That’s particularly important in today’s all volunteer military, where retention is as important as recruitment. The Governor wryly considered the preferences of young soldiers: “You ask them where they want to end up, on Guam, or on the Kona Coast?”
Of course, Abercrombie’s remarks – especially before this audience – were strategic. First, he pointed out that the current arrangement of U.S. military resources – in a crescent that runs up the West Coast, through Alaska and the Aleutians, and down through Japan and Korea – is an artifact of the Cold War, when our focus was on the Soviet Union. “Today, we need to think of it as bowl,” he said, gesturing with his fingers to indicate an arc running from California, through Hawaii, and reaching all the way to the Indian Ocean. Not coincidentally, that’s pretty much the jurisdiction of the Pacific Command.
It sounds like a turf war between rival pimps. But the affected people of Hawai’i and Guam whose land, culture and environment will be taken and destroyed are never asked nor listened to when they object.
Under the leadership of William Aila, the Department of Land and Natural Resources is at least following the law by requiring the Army to complete an environmental assessment of proposed helicopter high altitude training in the protected areas of the sacred mountain Mauna Kea. The Honolulu Star Advertiser headline should have been “State requires Army to conduct environmental review”, but instead it revealed its pro-military bias with the headline “State hobbles Army training”. The article suggests that Abercrombie may be helping to facilitate the approval of the military training on the mountain. Native Hawaiians and environmentalists are livid about the prospect of military helicopters using Mauna Kea. In the past the hot-dogging pilots violated protected areas and landed in the Mauna Kea Ice Age Preserve.
As reported earlier on this site, an investigation of a crash at the Colorado helicopter training site was critical of this type of training:
The article cites an investigation of the crash that says “The investigation was also critical of the training program, designed to prepare Army pilots for Afghanistan… the program “focuses almost exclusively” on landing at high elevations even though helicopters have little need to do that in Afghanistan.”
This comes at a time when a new law goes into effect creating a Public Land Development Corporation to promote “public-private investments” to exploit public lands, most of which are the stolen lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The other large portion of the Hawaiian national lands are occupied by the U.S. military (approximately 56% of the military controlled lands in Hawai’i are so-called “ceded lands”). As Arnie Saiki writes in the Statehood Hawai’i blog:
SB 1555–DLNR’s Public Land Optimization Plan: PLOP, Colonialism 4.0 Sneak-Attack
Next week, on July 1st, 2011, Act 55 goes into effect in Hawaii, an act that gives the State of Hawaii, through the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), a new for-profit entity directed by DLNR, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and the Department of Budget and Finance (DBF), headed by William Aila, Richard Lim, and Kalbert K. Young, respectively, called the PUBLIC LAND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION to establish a PUBLIC LAND OPTIMIZATION PLAN that will create public-private investment opportunities to develop all public lands currently under the authority of DLNR, which could include the controversial “ceded” lands, the roughly 1.8 million acres of Crown Lands that were “ceded” to the Territory during the fraudulent transfer to the U.S by the Republic of Hawaii, and transferred to the administration of the State of Hawaii during statehood.