U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie and Senator Daniel K. Akaka today announced that the U.S. Army plans to begin a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) study to analyze the impact of adding anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers to bases in the Pacific Theater, including Alaska and Hawaii.
"The Army is not getting ready to move more troops to Hawaii tomorrow," said Abercrombie, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces. "But they are required to evaluate the capacity of their bases to support the reassignment of troops as long-term decisions are made about reallocating forces around the world, and particularly since Congress has been pushing the Bush Administration to increase the size of the Army."
"I am pleased to see that the Army is following through with its environmental obligations," said Senator Akaka, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We must proceed carefully to make sure that our fragile resources are preserved, while acknowledging the strategic role our islands play in the defense of our nation. Military spending must be done with respect to our aina (land). As the Army determines the impact of its future plans on our environment, Congressman Abercrombie and I will continue to serve as stewards of Hawaii's resources by carefully monitoring the possible expansion of the Army and the environmental needs of our state."
As part of the Grow the Army' initiative, an environmental impact study was completed in January on the effect of additional forces on Mainland bases, and a Hawaii analysis will supplement that information. The Army announced the possibility last year of stationing additional logistics units in Hawaii as part of a larger force, such as engineering, military police, aviation or battlefield surveillance units, that support the operations of the combat brigades already there. The evaluation will consider the alternative impacts of 10,000 additional troops, of 7,500 troops, or 5,000, and of no additional troops, meaning the decision had been made to retain units in current locations and not increase the Army's overall size.
"This is not connected in any way to continuing questions about the basing of Stryker Brigades at Schofield Barracks. Those are separate studies about separate issues," Abercrombie added. "This environmental analysis, called a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement," that the Army intends to conduct is specifically to study and evaluate the environmental and socioeconomic impacts, including effects on natural, cultural and made-made environments on the bases, as well on the surrounding communities, from adding support personnel and their families."
The public can submit comments on the environmental impact evaluation process to the Army through April 16th; the draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be published in June; a final Statement in August; and then the Army will announce its final decisions about relocating units in September.