Expanding the Pacific Missile Range Facility via a new, $1.9-billion radar project that the Pentagon doesn’t want, says isn’t needed and will be obsolete before it’s even completed, is a bad idea.
The benefits of the pork are simply not worth the negative baggage that comes with it.
The waste of taxpayer funds, the increased militarization of our island (and the planet), the inevitable negative environmental impacts, the false economy this expansion would create, the inflated housing costs and the continued erosion of access to this beautiful coastline are only some of the negatives that will be forthcoming should this project move forward.
The proposal reeks of what is no doubt a well-intended, basic political desire to “take care of the district” by bringing home the bacon of jobs and economic development. While the goal of supporting Hawai‘i’s economy is a worthy one, the path of increased military spending on this particular project especially is not.
Last year the Pentagon itself actually attempted to defund the $1.9-billion Homeland Defense Radar – Hawai‘i project. According to the widely-read publication Defense News, Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said “that the agency decided to hit the brakes on its plans to set up the radars in the Pacific, instead are planning to take a new look at the sensor architecture in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region.”
Hill also indicated that the region was already protected by “…forward-deployed AN/TPY-2 radar in Hawai‘i as well as the deployable Sea-Based X-Band radar. Additionally, Aegis ships with their radars are mobile and can be repositioned as needed to address threats in the near term.”
“Yet, over the summer, the Hawaiian radar gained traction in Congress via funding support in the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee’s version of the FY21 defense-spending bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the defense-policy bill.” Defense News reported.
Bottom line: This project is driven by politics and pork.
I get it. Our elected representatives and those elected representatives in the districts where Lockheed Martin and other military defense contractors are based want the money and the jobs that will be created by this project.
However, as residents and taxpayers, we should say “thanks but no thanks.” Instead of increased military spending (on a project that is not even a high military priority and based on old technology), what we really need is funding for infrastructure, affordable housing and health/social services.
My father was a career Navy man, a chief boatswain’s mate who served honorably for over 30 years. I have friends and relatives who are veterans and who now serve in the Middle East. I am proud and thankful for their service, and I believe the United States must maintain a strong defense.
The amount of money spent globally on militarism is obscene. According to numerous public sources, annual military spending by the United States was $732 billion in 2019 and accounted for 38% of global military expenditures. China was second at $261 billion, followed by India at $71 billion, and Russia in fourth place at $65.1 billion. For some context: North Korea spent $3.6 billion, Iran spent between $12 and $20 billion, and Afghanistan $0.23 billion.
In addition to far outspending virtually every other country in the world, the U.S. also is the top seller of military arms on the planet.
The United States was the largest exporter of major arms from 2015 to 2019, delivering 76% more material than runner-up Russia. According to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute study reported in Defense News, “The U.S. provided major arms — defined as air-defense systems, armored vehicles, missiles and satellites, among other material — to 96 countries in those five years, with half of the weapons going to the Middle East.”
Kaua‘i and all Hawai‘i can and should lead on this by simply saying “no.” We don’t need, nor do we want, to be part of this madness. Use the $1.9 billion for education, health care and housing, please.
The Missile Defense Agency is sponsoring a scoping session prior to preparing a draft EIS for the radar project. It closes on April 12. Its purpose is to select one of two sites for the radar, or choose the no-action alternative (the right choice). The two sites are PMRF and the Kahuku Training Area on O‘ahu.
The public is invited to testify, and they are especially interested in environmental and cultural inputs. How to testify: by email, MDA.firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject Line: MDA HDR-H EIS; by phone (four-minute maximum): 1-888-473-6650.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.