BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – HONOLULU — Hawaii’s political and military leaders are worried proposed cuts to the military will affect the state’s economy and national security.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week announced the Obama administration’s plans to cut the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War II.
State Rep. K. Mark Takai said he is disappointed and concerned.
“Hawaii’s crucial role in the military’s pivot to the Pacific needs to be recognized by Secretary Hagel and the Pentagon,” Takai said. “The stability of the Asia-Pacific Region rests in peace through our effective military strength. This is not the time to reduce our military strength and presence in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”
The U.S. military has more than 108,000 troops and dependents in Hawaii, according to data from 2012. That includes two Army posts and the Tripler Army Medical Center, two Air Force bases, two Coast Guard and three Navy stations, and a Marine Corps base.
Every branch will be affected, said Hagel,who expects another round of base closures in 2017.
A member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, Takai has personal concerns.
“Our Air and Army National Guard units are less expensive to maintain and are available to governors during emergencies.”
The most substantial cuts announced so far will be to the U.S. Army — from 570,000 soldiers to 440,000.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Hawaii Democrat and member of the House Armed Services Committee, is “very concerned.”
“While the budget will still place priority on the Asia-Pacific Region and Hawaii, the sheer magnitude of the … reductions and other tough choices announced Monday come at the cost of military personnel and readiness,” Hanabusa said.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, is a Military Police Captain with the Hawaii Army National Guard. She served two deployments in the Middle East.
“After 13 years of war in the Middle East, it is essential that we take a hard look at how we are spending taxpayer dollars and allocating our limited national security resources,” said Gabbard. “In that time, we have seen emerging and imminent threats arise in other regions, and the nature of modern warfare is changing once again.”
Gabbard said she will review all aspects of the Defense Department’s budget proposal when it’s released March 4.
“As we examine and review the details of Secretary Hagel’s budget proposal, we must ensure that we are maintaining a force that is flexible and adaptive, able to address the threats we face today, but also a force that fits strategically with where we would like to be as a nation in the future.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr is president of the National Guard Association of the United States. He represents 45,000 current and former guard officers.
“We are disappointed, but hardly surprised, that today’s Pentagon budget preview ignores the advice of Congress and the nation’s governors that the National Guard should be more of a solution to the fiscal challenges facing our nation’s military. And we are angered by continuing comments, such as those in Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s prepared text, that National Guard units ‘complement’ active forces.”
Hagel also announced plans to remove the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter jet, which, Hargett, said is the “undisputed close-air-support aircraft of choice of U.S. ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Reach Malia Zimmerman at Malia@hawaiireporter.com
It's interesting how our local democrats are trying to distance themselves from Obama's plan to drastically cut our military. Are they against his plan in general or are they only against the part that cuts military spending in Hawaii? Is this the typical political hypocrisy that exists on almost every major issue?
I just saw 1991 footage of Dick Cheney announcing a 25% reduction in military spending. Being a republican you probably didn't consider that drastic at the time but smart budgeting trying to reduce waste. Hagel wants to cut something like 6%.
US military spending is larger than the next 10 countries combined. There are numerous instances of the military asking for $500,000 for some program and congress authorizing millions because a congressmen (on both sides) want to boost spending in their district. They make $35 million planes that go straight to mothballs because they are obsolete but congress won't stop funding the program. The military is the largest government entitlement program going but everyone hides behind the flag and the conservaites drink the koolaide. So when you talk political hypocrisy please look at both sides of the aisle and take a look at yourself in the mirror. By the way do you know what group is one of the largest consumer of food stamps? Military families.
Well then, this should make military vets the number one consumer of food stamps, or at least a close second.
I always find it amusing that you liberals want to compare us to other countries. Should have less to be more like other countries? I don't give a flying F&^% what the next 10 (who the heck cares who they are) countries spend on defense. We are the USA. We are the greatest country on earth! And the hell if I'm gonna stand by and let you freaking liberals sell us out to make us a third world country. So your post has proven that you can look up numbers…but I can tell you that you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.
If I'm not with you I am against you and therefore a liberal. If that is the approach you wish to take… Typical conservative to never let facts get in your way. Rather than present an even remotely intelligent arguement you merely present vague comments. In fact you haven't even met that minimal requirement. Raw Raw USA is the best you can come up with? Your comments add nothing to the debate.
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