The Army is embarking on a “Hawaii Infrastructure Readiness Initiative,” a $2.6 billion, 32-year plan to build and upgrade facilities across the state, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said.
The long-term plan “represents the Army’s commitment to Hawaii and our key role in the region,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The planned funding is critical to Hawaii, to the Army’s success, and to our national security.”
Facing rapidly advancing technology from China and Russia, the “Army today is at a strategic inflection” point, Army Secretary Mark Esper told the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C., think tank that focuses on international security and economic issues, on Tuesday. “We are coming off many years of hard conflict” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the Army must prepare for challenges that are high-technology in nature.”
The Army is being called on to have broader roles, and this summer during Rim of the Pacific war games will fire a land-based missile to sink a ship at sea.
Schatz said in a release that fulfilling the 32-year Army road map for Hawaii “will require timely and predictable funding,” and the Department of Defense “has my commitment to provide just that.”
The Army plans to begin with an initial five-year investment of $350 million in military construction to improve aviation facilities at Wheeler Army Airfield, something necessary for newer aircraft, including 24 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Schatz said.
Not enough hangar space is currently available for work on the choppers.
Some restoration and modernization funds are expected in fiscal 2019, and it’s anticipated the Army’s 2020 budget will be the first formal request for appropriated funds toward the Hawaii readiness initiative.
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