Despite much bellyaching from the Pentagon about having to go on a diet, President Obama himself stated, “Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership.” The new defense strategy reflects reductions in the rate of growth of the military budget. The Atlantic published an interesting article “The Real Defense Budget” (February 20, 2012) that reports the Pentagon budget is actually closer to $1 trillion!
Senator Inouye told the media that despite these changes in the military budget and in basing plans in east Asia, Hawai’i will not get relief from militarization. In fact, the military may grow in some areas to absorb some of the Marines being pushed out of Okinawa. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “Isles hold on to military might” (February 21, 2012):
As military communities around the nation fret about defense cuts, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said Hawaii expects to receive about 1,000 more Marines from Okinawa, have the same number or more ships based at Pearl Harbor and see a slight increase in shipyard work here.
Inouye confirmed Monday that with continuing problems with a 2006 agreement to relocate some Marines on Okinawa and move about 8,000 to Guam, the plan has changed.
About half the total, or 4,000 Marines, will now go to Guam, he said.
“Instead of all (8,000) going to Guam, they’ll go elsewhere — Australia, Hawaii and Guam,” Inouye said
“But the question now arises, Will those troops be rotating-type troops, or will they be stationed here with dependents, which would require schools, etc.? We have not reached that stage (of decision) yet.”
One disturbing revelation was that Marines could be housed in Kona on Hawai’i island. This follows similar remarks by Governor Abercrombie several months ago:
From a logistics and transportation standpoint, the Army’s Schofield Barracks on Oahu or the Kona side of Hawaii island could be looked at to house more Marines, he said
Inouye also confirmed that Singapore and the Philippines are being targeted for increased militarization:
Inouye said, “It’s serious business — the fact that we will be adding vessels in Singapore, we’ll be setting up a rotating-type of base in Australia, and I don’t know if the people of Hawaii have caught it, but we have now restored discussions with the Filipinos.”
HIS MAIN POINTS
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says:
The Pentagon is looking at shifting about 1,000 Marines from Okinawa to Hawaii. The move could be as part of permanent stations or rotational duty through Hawaii. About 500 could be accommodated at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base. Schofield Barracks and the Kona side of Hawaii island are being looked at as possibilities.
Pearl Harbor shipyard work will increase slightly.
The specific surface ships stationed at Pearl Harbor will change, but the base will retain 11 — the number it now has — or even more.
In an earlier article, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “$487B in Defense cuts would take 2 cruisers from Pearl Harbor” (February 15, 2012):
The Navy plans to retire two of three cruisers at Pearl Harbor under a leaner defense budget — a move that, along with other cutbacks, is expected to have a negative effect on Hawaii’s economy.
Officials at the Pentagon confirmed that the USS Port Royal — the newest cruiser in the Navy inventory and one with ballistic missile shoot-down capability — is expected to be decommissioned in fiscal year 2013.
The USS Chosin, which is in Pearl Harbor shipyard receiving $112.5 million in repairs and upgrades, would be retired in 2014.
In a statement submitted Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon is “retiring seven lower-priority Navy cruisers that have not been upgraded with ballistic missile defense capability or that would require significant repairs.”
The Defense Department’s budget request for 2013, released Monday, sets out $487 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Also affected would be the towering Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a regular visitor to Hawaii’s shores.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said it plans to sideline the $1 billion one-of-a-kind missile tracker by placing it “in a limited test and contingency operations status” to save $500 million over five years.
As the article mentions, one of the ships to be decommissioned, the USS Port Royal, is the newest cruiser. The ship cost $1 billion to build. In 2009, the USS Port Royal ran aground on the reef outside of Pearl Harbor, causing extensive damage to the coral as well as to the ship. The repairs were estimated to cost $25 million to $40 million. However, shipyard sources reported that the damage to the frame could not be fully repaired. This probably explains the early retirement of this state of the art missile cruiser.