Categorized | Military, News

Chamber council, legislators tour PTA


Members of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s Military Affairs Council and legislators from the Big Island recently attended the Army’s annual live-fire exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA).

The purpose of the orientation was to illustrate the importance of the site for training of Hawaii-based military units.

State Reps. Cindy Evans, Richard Onishi, Clift Tsuji and Ryan Yamane attended the event.

PTA is the only location in the state large enough and suited to conduct the live-fire event, which focused on training members of the Hawaii National Guard’s “Hiki No” artillery units.

“Training is a key component to military readiness and essential for Hawaii-based units to remain headquartered in Hawaii,” said PTA Garrison Commander, LTC Jacob Peterson.

The PTA installation can support up to 2,300 military personnel and even more with a tent city. PTA’s firing ranges allow units to conduct necessary small-arms and crew-served weapons familiarization training and qualification, as well as artillery and mortar live fire.

Through the years, PTA’s ranges and training areas have helped Army, Marine, Air Force and Navy units maintain their combat readiness.

Most recently, 25th Infantry Division units, Kaneohe-based Marines and Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers prepared at PTA for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As well as being a prime training of military forces in the Pacific region, PTA is a vanguard of environmental and cultural protection with more than 50 professionals dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered and threatened plants and safeguarding cultural resources at PTA.

PTA is the premier military training area in the Pacific region. Units from all U.S. military services, as well as allied militaries, train at PTA because of its realistic and unique training opportunities.

Training is one of the core components the Army is reviewing as it assesses its installations around the world.

As a result of overall budget cuts to the military, the Army announced earlier this year that it was looking at a number of bases across the country from which to cut forces. Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter in Hawaii were among them.

In a worst-case scenario, 19,800 Army personnel could be eliminated from Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks. This would be a loss of 34 percent of Shafter’s working population and 70 percent of Schofield’s.

In addition, Hawaii could lose an additional 30,035 family members (11,041 spouses, 18,995 children), or roughly five percent of Honolulu’s population.

The estimated loss of income to Hawaii’s economy in such a scenario is $1,352,402,000. The loss of income is estimated to reduce sales in Hawaii by $1.3 billion, resulting in a loss in sales tax receipts of $9.2 million.

“The military has always played a special role in our state, and the relationship between the military and our community is among the strongest in the nation,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. “But we need to ensure we are supporting our installations and military families for important issues like training or we may find ourselves losing our military assets to other cities who provide a more attractive opportunity.”

The direct and indirect impacts of overall military expenditures are reported to generate $14.7 billion into Hawaii’s economy, creating more than 102,000 jobs for residents that collectively report household incomes around $8.7 billion.

Moreover, military expenditures totaling $8.8 billion annually has elevated the defense industry and military procurement contracts amount to about $2.3 billion annually, making it a prime source of contracting opportunities for hundreds of Hawaii’s small businesses.

These expenditures touch every sector of our economy from STEM to education, housing, construction, retail, health care, agriculture and sustainable energy.

Military members and their families also contribute to Hawaii’s communities in many non-monetary ways:

* Their spouses serve as teachers, nurses and community volunteers.

* Military people bring a global perspective to our island state.

* Military service members bring critical skills in technical and engineering fields.

* They provide a stream of experienced talent through the “retired military” populations.

* They also bring youth, vitality and a counterbalance to our aging workforce.

The MAC is committed to actively advocating and communicating on behalf of our military, reaching out to the community to improve overall quality of life for our service members and their families, and working with the military to support job creation and efficiencies that benefit both the Department of Defense and the community.

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