HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Army said Thursday it will downsize military personnel at Schofield Barracks by 1,214 soldiers and thin the ranks at Fort Shafter by 229 troops. Hawaii could have lost about 20,000 soldiers to the Defense Department's downsizing.
"We're encouraged by this news. It is a reduction but it could have been a lot worse," said U.S. Rep. K. Mark Takai.
Supporters of larger cuts to Hawaii's military said the announcement is still a victory because it calls for converting Schofield's Stryker Brigade into an Infantry Brigade Combat team, ridding Hawaii of Stryker vehicles.
"Finally, the Army's come to the realization that those are just big paper weights stuck here on Oahu with no mission," said Al Frenzel of the Oahu Council for Army Downsizing University of Hawaii Economics Dept. chairman Sumner Lacroix believes the cuts won't severely impact Hawaii's economy but will take a bite out of Wahiawa's businesses.
"You don't want to sugar coat these kinds of cuts. There will be affects on people who run restaurants, bars, other stores that cater to military personnel," he said The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii collected more than 40,000 signatures during a petition drive to urge the Army to spare the state.
"We certainly recognize the difficult decisions that the Army had to consider in determining where the cuts were going to be made across the state. With that said we're pleased that it wasn't the worst-case scenario," Chamber CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara said.
To offset the loss of 1,400 soldiers, Hawaii will gain more than 200 personnel to expand medical efforts at Tripler Army Medical Center and 100 to support an air defense headquarters.
"This is important because it shows that the Army is committed to our state longterm," Takai said But more soldiers could be leaving Hawaii in future rounds of cuts through sequestration that affects defense spending.
HAWAI'I CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION STATEMENTS ON ARMY RESTRUCTURING
U.S. Army Pacific Statements