A partial win for Makua, but struggle far from over

Yesterday, the Army announced that it will end live fire training in Makua valley. This is a win for those who have struggled for many years to save Makua from the destructive and contaminating activities of the U.S. military. The Honolulu Star Advertiser ran a story and so did the Associated Press.

However, it is only a partial victory.

The Army continues to hold Makua hostage and plans to use the valley for other kinds of training. Furthermore, the Army is shifting the bulk of its training to Schofield in Lihu’e, O’ahu and Pohakuloa on Hawai’i island. This is consistent with the recent announcement of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for expanding or renovating training facilities at Pohakuloa.

This was never a “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” movement. Trading one ‘aina for another is not acceptable. Furthermore, it leaves unchallenged the very premise that the training is needed. Training for what purpose? To invade and occupy other countries? Inflict death and destruction in the name of Pax Americana?

The movement to protect Makua moves into a challenging phase as we now push for the cleanup and return of the land. The Army is hoping that non-live fire training will be less likely to inflame community anger. By removing a major flashpoint, the Army hopes to deflate the momentum of the movement. It is more difficult to sustain high levels of energy around the technical and tedious clean up and restoration of a site. So we must be inspired by our vision of the alternative we hope to grow in Makua.

Every gain we make in Makua owes to the thousands in Hawai’i and around the world who have come forward to malama ‘aina, speak out, protest, pray and grow the peaceful and blessed community we wish to see in the world.  The Makua movement must not forget its kuleana to the many people who have stood in solidarity with us, as we continue to stand and speak out in solidarity with others.



Army ends live-fire training at Makua

After decades of opposition to bombing the valley, real ordnance will be used only at Schofield and Pohakuloa

By William Cole

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 13, 2011

The last company of soldiers may have stormed the hills of Makua Valley with M-4 rifles blazing, artillery whistling overhead, mortars pounding mock enemy positions and helicopters firing from above.

After battling environmentalists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners since at least the late 1980s, the Army said this week it is acceding to community concerns and no longer will use the heavy firepower in Makua that started multiple fires in the 4,190-acre Waianae Coast valley and fueled a number of lawsuits.

In place of the company Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercises, known as CALFEXes, the Army said it is moving ahead with a plan to turn Makua into a “world class” roadside-bomb and counterinsurgency training center with convoys along hillside roads, simulated explosions and multiple “villages” to replicate Afghanistan.


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