Cuts would be ‘crippling,’ Congress members say
Members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation said it would be a strategic misstep for the Army to significantly downsize here, with the state’s economy also suffering.
“Hawaii is the last place the Army should consider cutting soldiers in light of America’s commitment to re-balance to the Asia-Pacific,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.
Schatz said that if “resourced correctly, the Army can play a strategic role, with Hawaii as the foundation for its engagement in the region.”
The testimony was submitted by video as the Army conducts two “listening” sessions to hear what residents have to say about a worst-case scenario that would see the Army cut 16,000 soldiers at Schofield Barracks and 3,800 at Fort Shafter.
The removal would mean the loss of $1.35 billion in annual sales, according to the Army.
One listening session was scheduled for Tuesday night at the Hale Koa Hotel. The second is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Leilehua High School.
Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter are “critical” not only to Hawaii’s economy, but to the strategic posture of the United States, said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
“Importantly, the Army’s presence in Hawaii has always been rooted in the significance of Hawaii’s geographic location,” Gabbard said. “Nowhere else in the world is it so clear that our economic and national security interests are deeply impacted by potential threats arising in the Asia-Pacific region.”
A loss of the magnitude the Army is considering would have “crippling impacts to the unique and indispensable assets available to Pacific Command for regional security and stability,” Gabbard said.
“Cuts like these would harm Hawaii’s economy, put many communities around these bases at risk and be out of line with our recently adjusted national defense strategy,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Takai. “The Obama administration has announced the re-balance to the Asia-Pacific, and Hawaii is the perfect place to ensure that our troops are ready to meet the challenges of this arena.”