Sen. Inouye weighs in on Makua

Predictably, Sen. Inouye has penned an editorial supporting the Army’s proposed expanded training in Makua valley. Let’s analyze his argument:

1. Army is a “good neighbor”.

The US military was the force that overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom and occupied Hawai’i. Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan to Teddy Roosevelt (1897): “take (Hawaii) first and solve (political questions) afterwards.” I wouldn’t consider anyone who covets and takes over his neighbor’s house a “good neighbor”.

2. Hawaii soldiers will be called to war; they need training.

What are the troops training for? The US is engaged in illegal, imperial wars to invade and occupy other peoples’ countries. Phiippines, Korea, Vietnam, and even WWII, the “good war”, was a struggle between two imperial camps. In the Pacific, Japan lost and the US took the spoils, creating an “American Lake”. Hawai’i’s sacred places should not be used to perpetuate empire.

3. The Army has trained in Makua for more than 60 years, virtually forever.

The US military illegally occupies lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom and seized private lands. The military evicted families from Makua and destroyed their community. They promised to return the lands after WWII, but lied.

4. The Army’s concern for the environment goes beyond Makua; they helped to pay for the purchase of lands to be placed in public land trusts.

Many people saw this coming: The use of military funds to help purchase and protect certain areas as “buffers” for military training would be used as part of the psychological operations to win the hearts and minds of, or at least neutralize resistance from the community, in this case environmentalists.

5. The Army is part of our ‘ohana.

The military is taking our ‘ohana to fight wars for the empire, much like the Romans enlisted subjugated peoples to fight in its legions. Military training in Hawai’i, going back to the earliest JROTC programs at Kamehameha Schools and McKinley High School in the early 1900s were intended to indoctrinate Hawaiian, Japanese and other Local youth into military/American identity and ideology. In 1924 General Charles P. Summerall, commander of the Hawaiian Department for the US Army and one of the more open-minded racists, wrote: “the Japanese students showed themselves to be capable of becoming very efficient military students. There is no better way of securing the loyalty of such people than to incorporate them in our military forces with the environment of obligation to duty that cannot fail to win their allegiance in most if not all cases. Such a course would also tend to remove the resentment that Japanese citizens now feel at the discrimination that is made against them.”  From Senator Inouye’s editorial, you might conclude that the military’s social engineering experiment worked.


June 7, 2009

Let Army resume training at Makua

By Daniel K. Inouye

On Friday, the Army released the final environmental impact statement for military training activities at the Makua Military Reservation. Completion of this EIS culminates a seven-year effort that studied the effects of live-fire training on the cultural and natural resources of the valley. This includes an extensive marine resources study and a subsurface archaeological survey.

I encourage the people of Hawai’i to review all the information. In doing so, I hope you will come to the same conclusion: Let them train.

The Army is a good neighbor and longtime member of our community. It has taken its responsibility very seriously, and has come to the conclusion that it can sufficiently mitigate the risks inherent in conducting live-fire training exercises in the valley. Rather than continuing to nitpick at one thing or another, and force a return yet again to court, serving only to delay critical training that could provide the difference between life and death, I respectfully suggest that we, as a community, stand up and say, “We’ve had enough of these delay tactics – let them train.”

Today, there are about 6,200 Hawai’i Army, Marine and National Guard warriors deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. With an increased military presence planned for Afghanistan, we should expect continued deployments in the foreseeable future. North Korea’s irresponsible taunting, as evidenced by its recent missile launches and its provocative future launch plans, have heightened already soaring tensions in the Pacific region. No doubt if there were an incident, our Hawai’i-based units could be among the first to respond. They must be able to train.

Our warriors should not be penalized and placed in harm’s way in faraway places without receiving the training they need to protect themselves, get the job done and return home safely. We also should not extend their time away from their families by forcing them to train in another state. Keep in mind that less than 1 percent of Americans are willing to make the sacrifice to wear our nation’s uniform. They deserve our support, as they serve to preserve our way of life. Let them train.

Makua Valley is a critical training asset for the Army, Marines and National Guard. It has been used as a live-fire training area for more than 60 years. In 1998, training was halted as a result of a lawsuit. Training was then allowed on a negotiated, limited basis following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, while the EIS was being prepared. As the memory of Sept. 11 faded, training was again halted in the summer of 2004, pending completion of the EIS. So, here we are today, with the final EIS in front of us.

The Army has maintained Makua Valley as a training area, while at the same time steadfastly continuing its efforts to protect the endangered species and cultural sites, including removing ordnance to allow reasonable access for cultural practitioners. About $4 million annually is spent for this purpose. In addition, more than $6 million to date has been set aside for the removal of ordnance in Makua Valley, and in near-ocean waters opposite the valley.

More than 30 technically-trained field biologists manage the natural resources in Makua Valley. They have planted about 4,000 endangered plants, controlled the weeds, and built fences to protect endangered species. Another $1 million is spent annually to preserve archeological sites in the valley. To date, 121 sites have been identified for study and protection. I would venture that very few other entities have the resources and the commitment to take as good care of Makua Valley as the Army.

The Hawai’i Army’s environmental stewardship goes beyond the valley. It is a willing public partner in conserving special lands, and has invested more than $10 million in recent years alone to support the acquisition of Waimea Valley, Pupukea-Paumalu, Moanalua Valley and, very shortly, the Honouliuli preserve along the Wai’anae mountain range.

Each year, the Army spends about $365 million for its support in Hawai’i. Estimated spending for privatized Army housing construction and maintenance already tops $736 million. Add another $598 million for military construction provided just in the past two years including stimulus funds. All of this supports our economy during these difficult times.

Most important to me, however, the Hawai’i Army is a part of our ‘ohana. It’s not about “us and them,” but rather a much larger “we and our.” We volunteer together at the Food Bank and Special Olympics. Our children are learning side-by-side with one another. Our moms and dads are coaching young athletes together on the soccer and baseball fields.

Our soldiers deserve our support. They deserve the best training we can provide to prepare them for battle in faraway lands. The Army has done their part. It’s time to do ours – let them train.


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