Army Officially Picks Hawaii as Stryker Brigade's Home Base

David Henkin
David Henkin
Col. Wayne Shanks
Col. Wayne Shanks

WAHIAWA (KHNL) -- The Army makes a final decision to keep the 2/25th Stryker Brigade on Oahu permanently, saying it's for the sake of maximizing national security.

But will the move be at the expense of precious lands? That's the concern from environmentalists and Native Hawaiian groups.

They have been in a legal battle with the Army since 2004, trying to stop the Stryker Brigade from using Schofield Barracks as home base.

The Army's decision follows the completion of court-ordered environmental impact statement. Two years after Earthjustice sued the Army on behalf of three Native Hawaiian groups, a judge issued an injunction saying the military needs to explore sites outside of Hawaii.

The Army did that, and the outcome still has Schofield as the top choice for a base.

Fears of environmental damage looms over Schofield Barracks.

"It's not a question of whether the military is going to stay in Hawaii, it's a question of what type of military presence is appropriate for these small islands with their fragile ecosystems and their sacred sites," said Earthjustice Attorney David Henkin.

"I think you will see that the Army is a good steward of the land here. We take great care of the lands that we train on. Our activities have been compatible with the island life here," said Col. Wayne Shanks with the U.S. Army.

The Army says it decided to permanently station the Stryker Brigade at Schofield because the combat team has the best chance of winning Pacific conflicts with Hawaii as home base.

"Hawaii was chosen for strategic reasons. Also for the access to training areas and the quality of life for our soldiers and their families," said Col. Shanks.

Earthjustice says there is a silver lining. The Army also announced it is thinking of moving training activities out of the Makua Military Reservation to protect sacred lands and endangered species.

"Frankly, the Army should be commended for, after years, reversing its prior position and responding to the comments received from the public and committing to taking a serious look at a non-Makua alternative," said Henkin.

The Army says it is committed to avoiding or minimizing any environmental harm.

Alaska and Colorado were the two alternative locations the Army looked at. Now that a final decision is in, the Army can complete $250 million dollars worth of construction projects left to accommodate the Stryker Brigade.