The U.S. Army listened to testimony from the community and finally made the correct decision to remove the environmentally offensive Stryker vehicles from Hawaii. Had they listened twelve years ago, billions of dollars could have been saved and acres of concrete would not need to have been poured on Hawaii's aina. Responding to the OCAD's claims that the Stryker brigade could not train to Army standards in Hawaii and maintain its combat readiness, the Army finally acquiesced to common sense and Title 10 (U.S. Code Subtitle B) reality. No longer pressured by Senator Inouye's presence to maintain the facade that these vehicle are needed in Hawaii, the Army made a significant course correction that can be applauded and celebrated. Now if only the facade of Hawaii being a strategic outpost for the Army could be exposed in similar fashion.


Army Downsizing - A Wonderful Opportunity Not Taken

March of 2014, the Department of Defense (DoD) released its Quadrennial Defense Review for 2014 (QDR 2014). DoD releases a QDR every four years as a way of articulating its strategic direction and providing end strength and force structure decisions for the Services to implement over a fixed period of time. The DoD is facing ever-increasing fiscal challenges and is unable to sustain itself at current and future levels of funding projected by the Congress. In the case of the Army, QDR 2014 calls for a reduction of as many as 130,000 active duty Army soldiers world-wide. To meet this fiscally constrained personnel cap the Army published an Environmental Assessment (EA) identified in bases within 19 States to absorb these cuts; Hawaii is one of the States on the Army’s cut list. Bases in Hawaii now being considered by the Army to meet these cuts include Schofield Barracks (16,000) and Fort Shafter (3,800).The impacts of these cuts are significant, but the members of the Oahu Council for Army Downsizing(OCAD) see most of these as positive impacts that will greatly improve the quality of life for Hawaii’s people, particularly the Hawaiian community on Oahu and throughout Hawaii Nei.

The OCAD supports and actively advocates for the downsizing of Army Forces on Oahu. The OCAD does not consider the bulk of the Army’s forces on Oahu to be strategically located since these forces do not have readily available airlift or sealift to support their transport to anywhere in the Pacific as quickly as may be needed. Moreover, the OCAD believes the Army on Oahu lacks critically needed ‘forced entry’ capability to allow it to enter hostile environments, a capability already possessed by the US Marines presently on Oahu and throughout the Pacific. The OCAD believes taxpayers cannot afford to pay for redundant forces competing to do the same job and redundant, geographically isolated forces occupying critical lands and consuming valuable resources that are important to the State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian community.

The OCAD wants the people of Hawaii and Oahu to understand the goodness that can occur if the Army is downsized in the quantities proposed by DoD. The OCAD believes the cuts proposed should occur in the near term and that the following bases and geographic areas be returned to the State of Hawaii: Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield, Makua Valley, Dillingham Military Reservation, and Kolekole pass with unimpeded access on Lualualei Naval Road.


     The Army Announced in July 2014 that due to Department of Defense (DoD) requirements under QDR 2014 it would cut its forces by as many as 130,000 personnel; down to as few as 420,000 military personnel when FY 2016 Sequestration manifested itself.
     A year later in July of 2015, the Army announced it would make only 40,000 military personnel cuts and 17,000 Army civilian employee cuts and it identified which units were to absorb the losses. In actuality, only 18,967 military personnel cuts were made that directly affected active Army units, a very small portion of the originally announced 100,000 to 130,000 personnel.
     In October of 2015, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which funded DoD in such a way that prevented it from any sequestration mandated cuts and thereby ended any further Army personnel cuts and even restored some that had already been announced.
     In essence, the Congress and the Obama Administration stopped any fiscal reform of the Defense Department as mandated by the QDR process and any supposed automatic spending cuts dictated by the sequestration and the Budget Control Act of 2011.  Political will could not stomach necessary and even legally mandated budget cuts that would more effectively align military force structure with its strategic mission requirements and fiscal realities.
     On a positive note, the Army decided it will remove the Stryker vehicles from the force structure in Hawaii and reorganize the 2/25 SBCT into a two maneuver battalion infantry brigade combat team. Unfortunately, this still leaves two obscenely expensive, conventional warfare brigades and their support forces isolated in the middle of the pacific with the misguided political belief they are trickling down some rightful share of economic welfare to the people of Hawaii. 


A Great Opportunity Missed:


Announced Military Cuts
Note: Only 18,967

Fort Benning12,655-3,402
Fort Bliss26,365-1,219
Fort Bragg39,672-842
Fort Campbell26,400-353
Fort Carson23,349-365
Fort Drum14,722-28
Fort Hood37,475-3,350
Joint Base Lewis-McChord26,308-1,251
Fort Polk8,128-388
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson4,603-2,631
Fort Riley15,409-615
Schofield Barracks15,687-1,214
Fort Stewart19,404-947
Fort Wainwright6,296-73
Aberdeen Proving Ground2,614-126
Fort Belvoir4,179-250
Fort Gordon5,95841
Fort Huachuca2,468-114
Fort Irwin4,416-246
Fort Jackson2,804-180
Fort Knox4,70667
Fort Leavenworth2,543-60
Fort Lee3,334-127
Fort Leonard Wood5,168-774
Fort Meade4,92499
Fort Rucker3,112-186
Joint Base San Antonio5,566-329
Fort Shafter2,233-229
Fort Sill6,527219
Joint Base Langley-Eustis3,790-94
Net Change


Army in Hawaii White Paper



Oahu Council on Army Downsizing Applauds Army’s Decision to Remove Stryker Vehicles

Press Release - Makaha, Hawaii – July 9, 2015

     As part of the U.S. Army’s announcement today on this first round of Army downsizing decisions, the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team will remain a brigade combat team, but will convert its primary maneuver platform, officials said. Currently a Stryker brigade combat team, it will become an infantry brigade combat team without Stryker combat vehicles.
     The Director for the Oahu Council for Army Downsizing (OCAD), Retired Army Colonel AL Frenzel, commented today that “removing the Stryker combat vehicles from the 25th ID’s force structure is a “no brainer” decision whose time has finally come. This is great news for Oahu and particularly Makua Valley and Pohakuloa Training Area. The Stryker vehicles should never have been positioned on Oahu; it was a very poor political decision with huge costs to taxpayers and Hawaii’s environment.”
     In regards to the number of personnel on Oahu that will be cut by the Army (1,214 soldiers for Schofield Barracks and 229 for Fort Shafter), Frenzel stated that this is the first announcement of several to come. If no change takes place regarding sequestration spending caps scheduled to return in October, the Army’s end-strength will be further reduced to 420,000 soldiers. Frenzel said at this point the numbers announced are a little confusing; announced cuts to bases amount to less than 19,000 personnel (far less than the 40,000 soldier cuts and 17,000 Army civilian cuts to be made). Frenzel speculates that the Army might be cutting its personnel float (soldiers in transition and not directly assigned to a base) which is basically a numbers game that will later haunt the Army by taking away much needed personnel management flexibility. Moreover, it will make the next round of cuts very painful for the Army, forcing them to cut deep into combat forces, including those on Oahu.
    Frenzel stands firm on the OCAD’s position that the Army downsizing on Oahu is good for the Country, Hawaii and the Army. He stated, “The Army cannot adequately train here, cannot easily and quickly deploy from here and pays a fortune to be stationed here. The monetary costs to Hawaii’s people are significant; over $649 Million to provide State, City and County Services per year which is an annual net cost to Hawaii of $441 Million after accounting for the Army’s economic contribution of a mere $208 Million. Education costs alone for the Army’s 11,000 keiki in Hawaii DOE schools cost Hawaii taxpayers $121 Million per year. Imagine how much better DOE could educate our keiki if Impact Aid for Federal students were fully reimbursed at the 100% rate and not the completely unacceptable 15% rate currently provided. I do not understand why the DOE and our political leaders do not address this severe shortfall of Federal reimbursement to the DOE.”