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Stryker Brigade Lawsuit -- Ethnic Hawaiian Activists Use A Religious Legend To Claim Racial Supremacy in Political Power -- Long-Range Attempt to Push the Military (and the United States) Out of Hawai'i


Ethnic Hawaiian activist groups have filed a lawsuit to stop the transformation of a Hawai'i-based combat unit to a Stryker brigade, following publication of an environmental impact statement. The Star-Bulletin and Advertiser reported this story on August 18, 2004, but left out some very important explanations of what's really going on. This webpage provides links to several other webpages explaining the underlying issues which those newspaper articles failed to explain. Progress of the lawsuit is also tracked, along with related protest marches and public relations propaganda.

The Stryker protest is like an onion -- it has many layers.

On the surface is concern over environmental damage. Strykers are large vehicles which damage the terrain and kick up dust. Training exercises involve munitions and chemicals which might cause lasting damage. For those reasons, environmentalist groups like Earth Justice and the Sierra Club are glad to join with Hawaiian activists to oppose the Strykers. But there's more.

Acquiring land, constructing roads and support buildings, and conducting training exercises might cause ancient burials to be disturbed, and might cause damage to historical or sacred places. For that reason, historical preservation groups might support the Stryker protests even when they are not primarily Hawaiian sovereignty groups. But there's more.

Most people of Hawai'i support historical preservation, and place great value on protecting Hawaiian cultural treasures as the core of what makes Hawai'i a special place. Thus, individuals who might not see themselves as sovereignty activists nevertheless support the Stryker protests. Preserving historical or cultural treasures is always noble regardless of which culture might be involved; but when the culture to be preserved is native Hawaiian, many people attach far more importance to it than would be given to some other culture. That's because ethnic Hawaiians are the favored racial group, treated like a family pet or state mascot. See:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/hawnsasmascots.html
But there's more.

There's a religious belief in the ancient Hawaiian religion which can be interpreted to mean that ethnic Hawaiians have a special inborn connection to the land, and correspondingly special rights to protect the land, to use it for cultural and religious purposes, and to control land-use policy. Some people with no Hawaiian native ancestry have such love and respect for Hawaiian culture and for native Hawaiians, that great deference is given to this religious theory. Thus, there is effectively an establishment of religion, whereby the religious beliefs held by some people are translated into race-based political power on land-use policy, which is an important element of political sovereignty.

One of the major claims made in the lawsuit, as reported in a quote from Vicky Holt Takamine in the Star-Bulletin article of August 18, 2004, is the assertion of the religious belief mentioned above as a justification for claiming a race-based right to political power.

"Native Hawaiians have a unique spiritual relationship to the 'aina, or the land, and as a result, a kuleana (responsibility) to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of Hawaii for future generations. Transformation will cut us off from these resources, these sacred sites, which are vital to perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture."

A Hawaiian creation legend says that the gods gave birth to the Hawaiian islands as living beings; and later those same gods gave birth to the ancestor of all ethnic Hawaiians. Thus there is a genealogical relationship between the gods, the land, and the ethnic Hawaiians. This is a family relationship in which all persons who have at least one drop of Hawaiian blood have a special relationship with the gods and the land -- a relationship not shared with anyone lacking a drop of the magic blood. Therefore ethnic Hawaiians have both a unique spiritual connection to the land and a genealogical right and duty to exercise political power regarding decisions about how the land is used and protected.

A large webpage explains this religious legend and its use for political claims to racial supremacy:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/religion.html

And there's more.

Behind the scenes is another factor: Hawaiian sovereignty activists are opposed to any presence of the U.S. military in Hawai'i. That's because they regard the U.S. as an illegal occupier of Hawai'i under a belligerent military occupation continuing since 1893.

Remember that Hawaiian sovereignty activists claim that the U.S. staged an armed military invasion of Hawai'i during the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 (152 U.S. soldiers came ashore to protect lives and property) -- a crime against international law that the U.S. confessed to in the apology resolution of 1993. Hawaiian activists claim that Hawai'i has been under a continuing belligerent military occupation by the U.S. ever since 1893. They say the U.S. should withdraw from Hawai'i, thereby returning sovereignty to Hawai'i as an independent nation.

So an important hidden motive for the Stryker lawsuit is to use it as part of a long-term strategy to force the U.S. military out of Hawai'i and, eventually, for Hawai'i to achieve independence from the United States. For more about the secessionist movement (and how the Akaka bill would give aid and comfort to it), read: "The Akaka Bill And Secession: The Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) is seen by its supporters as a step toward total independence for all of Hawai'i" at:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/AkakaSecession.html

The issues in the case of the Stryker brigade are essentially the same as the issues in the previous (and ongoing) dispute over the use of Makua Valley for live fire training. A large webpage analyzed ethnic Hawaiian anti-military activism regarding the use of Makua Valley for live-fire training. See:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/makua.html

The same religious legend has been asserted to oppose the use of Mauna Kea for astronomical telescopes:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/maunakea.html

However, a strong argument can be made (which the activists totally ignore) that the same religious legend can be used to defend the astronomical observatories on Mauna Kea as being a fulfillment of the very essence of what makes Mauna Kea a spiritually significant place:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/maunakeatestmny011204.html

Racial separatism, as proposed in the Akaka bill, and ethnic nationalism, as the independence activists are seeking, both share a common core of beliefs in racial supremacy and anti-Americanism. That common core convergence of the two theories of Hawaiian sovereignty is analyzed at:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/sepnatcommoncore.html

Anti-Americanism in the sovereignty movement is further described at:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/antiamerican.html

Some photographs of blatantly anti-American posters on display at a red-shirt rally of 15,000 activists at ‘Iolani Palace in August 2005 have been gathered at:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi5/bigfiles3/AntiAmericanHawaiianProtesters.html

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin article of Wednesday, August 18, 2004 includes the short quote copied above (attributed to Vicky Holt Takamine) describing the religious theory, but offers no further analysis of the anti-military or sovereignty motives. The article has these two headlines: Groups sue over Strykers in isles; The native Hawaiians build their lawsuit around the Army's environmental report. Complete article copied below.

The Honolulu Advertiser article of Wednesday, August 18, 2004 includes no reference to the religious legend or the underlying anti-military sovereignty issue, and offers only the superficial environmentalist explanation with a quote from Vicky Holt Takamine, head of 'Ilio'ulaokalani: ""With every move to destroy cultural sites, to destroy endangered species, native Hawaiian resources that are vital to our cultural practices, we find it extremely difficult to pass on these traditions to the next generation." The headline says only: "Lawsuit opposes Stryker brigade." Complete article copied below.

'Ilio'ulaokalani, headed by Victoria Holt Takamine, is the same group that organized the infamous "red shirt" marches in Fall, 2003 in which as many as 10,000 Hawaiian sovereignty activists marched through Waikiki, and later also at the federal courthouse. They were protesting a lawsuit seeking to abolish the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and also protesting lawsuits to abolish the racially exclusionary admissions policy at Kamehameha Schools. For a review of the first big red-shirt march, see:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/redshirtsept2003.html

Another red-shirt march a year later stimulated production of a webpage comparing it with Hitler’s youth marches: "Red-Shirt Pro-Apartheid March of September 6, 2004 -- 'Die Jugend Marschiert'" at:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/redshirtsept2004.html

Following are the two articles from the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin. After that is an article from the Hilo Hawaii Tribune-Herald, and some comments from sovereignty activists clearly indicating that the lawsuit is only one element in a larger strategy of pushing the U.S. out of Hawai'i. Later, an article from April 26, 2005 reports that the lawsuit was dismissed. Then a red-shirt protest was held on Sunday, September 4, 2005 (Labor Day weekend) at Kukaniloko (the sacred birthing stones near Wahiawa where there is a large military base).

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http://starbulletin.com/2004/08/18/news/story1.html
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, August 18, 2004

Groups sue over Strykers in isles
The native Hawaiians build their lawsuit around the Army's environmental report

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Several native Hawaiian groups filed a federal lawsuit yesterday seeking to block the 25th Infantry Division from converting one of its combat units to the Army's new Stryker force.

David Henkin, attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice, said the lawsuit alleges that the Army failed to consider locations other than Hawaii in its final environmental impact statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Henkin, who represents Ilioulaokalani Coalition, Na Imi Pono and Kipuka, said he hopes to meet with Army lawyers before deciding to seek a temporary retraining order.

Capt. Kathleen Turner, Army spokeswoman, said: "We are disappointed that we have been sued, as the Army has worked hard to involve the community and public throughout the planning process for transformation and the detailed environmental study conducted to ascertain the environmental effects of transformation.

"We are a nation at war and the entire Army in Hawaii is participating in the global war on terrorism. We believe the Stryker Brigade Combat Team is the best solution for our soldiers, and they deserve to have the best as they fight this war."

In approving the conversion of a 25th Division unit to a Stryker brigade, Lt. Gen. James Campbell, former commander of U.S. Army Pacific, said last month that the Army will spend $40 million for future preservation efforts and planned to work with preservation groups to minimize any adverse impacts.

Henkin said the lawsuit is built around the Army's own admission in its final environmental impact statement. "Transforming the 2nd Brigade in Hawaii would destroy native Hawaiian cultural sites, prevent the exercise of traditional practices and irreparably harm Hawaii's fragile and unique native ecosystems, as well as the endangered plants and animals that depend on them," Henkin said.

William Aila, spokesman for Na Imi Pono, said at an Iolani Palace news conference that the Army has several other sites on the mainland devoted to training, which could house the new Stryker brigades.

He said the Army has been repeatedly asked why those bases couldn't be used. "The Army said it couldn't be done even though there were two Stryker brigades at Fort Lewis in Washington and now they announced they will locate another one there.

"Over the past five years we've been asking this same question over and over again and never got any answer. The fundamental problem is that they lied to us."

Henkin emphasized that the lawsuit does not seek to limit Army training currently being conducted anywhere here by existing units.

The Army wants to start training with the 19-ton Strykers in 2007. Hawaii's Stryker Brigade Combat team will be the fifth of six units. One is already in combat in Iraq.

Schofield Barracks' Stryker brigade will be built around 310 19-ton, eight-wheeled vehicles. They are designed to bridge the gap between the Army's tanks and infantry. The Stryker can be deployed by C-130, C-17 or C-5 Air Force cargo aircraft.

However, a congressional report released Friday said a Stryker weighs so much that it curtails the range of a C-130 and under certain conditions it isn't able to take off in the higher elevations of places like Afghanistan.

The 25th Division's 2nd Brigade will get more than 800 new soldiers, boosting its rolls to more than 3,600, starting next March when the unit returns from Iraq.

Tomorrow, the Air Force will break ground on facilities for a new C-17 squadron at Hickam Air Force Base. The squadron, the first stationed outside the mainland, would be composed of 140 active Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard personnel. The first of eight 174-foot C-17s is expected to arrive in February.

At yesterday's news conference, Vicky Holt-Takamine, Ilioulaokalani president, said "Native Hawaiians have a unique spiritual relationship to the aina, or the land, and as a result, a kuleana (responsibility) to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of Hawaii for future generations. Transformation will cut us off from these resources, these sacred sites, which are vital to perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture."

The Army is planning 28 Stryker-related construction projects valued at $693 million, including several range complexes at Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.

Earthjustice www.earthjustice.org/
25th Infantry Division www.25idl.army.mil

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http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Aug/18/ln/ln25a.html
The Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Lawsuit opposes Stryker brigade

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Three native Hawaiian organizations are challenging the Army's Stryker plan in federal court, saying the service failed to consider any location other than Hawai'i for the fast-strike unit, in violation of federal environmental law.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by Earthjustice on behalf of the 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition, Na 'Imi Pono and Kipuka, seeks to prevent the Army from going forward with the transformation of the 2nd Brigade at Schofield Barracks to a Stryker brigade.

The groups want the Army to delay the project until it expands its environmental impact statement to adequately consider "a range of alternate locations outside Hawai'i for transformation," according to a news release.

In response to the suit, the 25th Infantry Division (Light) and U.S. Army, Hawai'i, released a statement yesterday saying, "We are disappointed that we have been sued as the Army has worked hard to involve the community and public throughout the planning process for transformation and the detailed environmental study conducted to ascertain the environmental effects."

The environmental impact statement was released on June 4, and following a 30-day public review period, the Army signed a "record of decision" on July 7.

The approximately 3,000-page environmental review states that 1,736 tons of dust would be generated from increased vehicle traffic, an increase of 81 percent.

The Army plans to post 291 Stryker vehicles — similar to this one at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. — in Hawai'i by 2007.

Advertiser library photo • July 30, 2003 The Army also concluded there would be significant effects on cultural and biological resources, but that mitigation efforts could reduce them.

The Army said it was going ahead with the Stryker Brigade because it is "critical to achieving current and future national security objectives in U.S. Pacific Command's area of responsibility."

Vicky Holt Takamine, president of the 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition, said native Hawaiians have a responsibility to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of Hawai'i.

"With every move to destroy cultural sites, to destroy endangered species, native Hawaiian resources that are vital to our cultural practices, we find it extremely difficult to pass on these traditions to the next generation," Holt Takamine said.

The Army last month gave final approval to the $1.5 billion brigade of 291 Stryker vehicles while acknowledging the cultural and environmental concerns of those who have opposed it.

The plan calls for the acquisition of 1,400 acres on O'ahu and 23,000 acres on the Big Island, and networks of private trails for the 20-ton Stryker vehicles.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said the National Environmental Policy Act requires federal agencies to look at the range of alternatives before proceeding with a plan such as the Stryker Brigade, which is expected to be operational by 2007.

"They didn't look at that at all," Henkin said at a news conference on the grounds of 'Iolani Palace yesterday. He said the closest the Army got was examining two alternatives — transforming a brigade in a different location, and transforming the 2nd Brigade at Schofield but sending its members to the Mainland for training.

===============

** NOTE that the first headline on this article in the Hilo Hawai'i Tribune-Herald of August 18, 2004 makes the purpose of the lawsuit very clear: it is an attack in a war by Hawaiian activists against the U.S. military presence in Hawai'i.

http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/articles/2004/08/18/local_news/local01.txt
EXCERPTS

A war on two fronts

Hawaiian groups sue to block Army brigade in islands

By B.J. REYES Associated Press

HONOLULU-- Three native Hawaiian groups sued the Defense Department on Tuesday seeking to block one of the Army's new Stryker brigades from coming to Hawaii until a more comprehensive environmental assessment is completed and alternative sites are considered.

The groups contend the Army failed to consider any location other than Hawaii before deciding to move forward with plans to renovate and expand existing island facilities to transform the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade at Schofield Barracks to a more mobile, fast-moving Stryker unit. Lt. Gen. James Campbell, commander of Army forces in the Pacific, gave final approval last month to the environmental impact statement that cleared the way for the brigade's transformation process in the islands to begin. At the time, he noted that the Army spent $10 million over two years in compiling the 2,000-page statement, and another $40 million was earmarked for future preservation efforts. "We are disappointed that we have been sued as the Army has worked hard to involve the community and public throughout the planning process for transformation and the detailed environmental study conducted to ascertain the environmental effects of transformation," Army spokeswoman Capt. Kathleen Turner said in a statement Tuesday. "We are a nation at war and the entire Army in Hawaii is participating in the global war on terrorism. "We believe the Stryker Brigade Combat Team is the best solution for our soldiers, and they deserve to have the best as they fight this war."

----------------

COMMENTS on this article, forwarded to Ken Conklin, that were made either on an e-mail list of activists seeking to demilitarize Hawai'i, and/or on an e-mail list of Hawaiian independence activists:

Gwen Burrows wrote:
This is really hilarious. The army says they really feel bad about being sued and yet they fail to get the impact of the reason why they're being sued, it's because they are not wanted here. We want them out of Hawaii lot stock and WMD and we'll be there for the great send off.

Tane808@cs.com wrote:
They should sue all branches of the US military in Hawai'i. Get them all out of our country! The Navy is bringing in the Nuclear equipped aircraftcarrier to O'ahu and more racist WASP onto the islands. Send them back to their own home. Send those Americans back to their homeland. Tell them to take their 'opala to their land and stop contaminating ours. Just venting!

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http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Apr/26/ln/ln14p.html
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Stryker brigade wins court fight

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

Three Native Hawaiian and environmental groups have lost their federal court challenge to the Army's ongoing efforts to establish a Stryker brigade in Hawai'i.

Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra yesterday threw out their lawsuit, ruling that the groups raised their objections too late. But even if they had protested early enough, the judge said, the Army had properly notified the public and adequately studied the effects of the project.

The $1.5 billion project calls for the transformation of the Army's 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) into a Stryker unit of approximately 300 armored vehicles.

"The Army is pleased with Judge Ezra's ruling and appreciates the court's thoughtful consideration of this very important matter," the 25th Infantry Division said in a release. Meanwhile, the Army said yesterday that construction for a training range for the Stryker unit will begin at Schofield Barracks in May.

William Aila Jr., 47, spokesman for Na 'Imi Pono, one of the three groups that sued, said he was disappointed, but that the decision was not unexpected in view of Ezra's ruling last year refusing to halt the project while the suit was pending. Aila said the groups are considering their options, which include asking the judge to reconsider yesterday's decision or appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "We're not going to walk away from this," he said. Earthjustice lawyer David Henkin, who represents the three groups, said he was disappointed and reviewing the decision to decide what to do next.

The court case was closely monitored by Army and federal officials because it could have derailed the ambitious transformation plans in Hawai'i. But for now, Ezra's 24-page decision ends the court case that began with the filing of the lawsuit last year by Na 'Imi Pono, 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition and Kipuka. The groups said the Army didn't adequately notify Hawai'i residents about the project and didn't adequately consider its effect on the environmental and cultural sites or alternatives, such as establishing the fast-strike unit in other states.

Yesterday's ruling was foreshadowed in November when Ezra refused to issue an injunction halting the transformation while the suit was pending. At the time, Ezra cited national security and the war on terrorism. The injunction would have harmed the Army's fight in the global war on terrorism, the judge had said.

In his decision yesterday, Ezra reviewed the Army's efforts in sending notices to the public and studying the effects of the fast-strike brigade here. He said the groups alleged that studies failed to consider locating the brigade outside Hawai'i, but the judge said the Army rejected that alternative because of "adverse impacts to training ability and air transport resources."

The Stryker brigades are part of the Army's 30-year plan to provide more responsive and deployable units for the 21st century. Once transformed, the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division would become one of five to eight Army Stryker units. The 20-ton Stryker vehicles, which ride on eight tires instead of tank treads and can hit highway speeds of 70 mph, now are expected to start arriving in Hawai'i in the spring of 2006. (The Army had said that the unit would be stood up this fall.)

Preparation for facilities and infrastructure has proceeded unimpeded by the lawsuit, the Army said. The Stryker brigade would be the biggest Army project in Hawai'i since World War II, and is expected to generate $700 million in construction projects on O'ahu and the Big Island.

The project includes 49 miles of private trails for Stryker use, six new firing ranges, two airfield upgrades, support facilities including a virtual war-fighting trainer, and significant impacts on cultural and biological resources. "The Army is currently in a pre-construction phase for some of the facilities required to support training of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team," said Schofield spokeswoman Capt. Juanita Chang. "Construction of one of those facilities, specifically Qualification Training Range 1 at Schofield Barracks, will begin in May." As part of that plan, 1,400 acres adjacent to Schofield Barracks and 23,000 acres on the Big Island will be purchased for firing ranges and for training.

Court papers last year stated that Campbell Estate agreed to accept as "just compensation" $15.9 million for the 1,400 acres of land, part of which was used by Del Monte for agriculture.

The Army says the Stryker, with add-on armor, has proven its worth in combat in Iraq. A Stryker unit based out of Fort Lewis, Wash. — the 1st Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) — is in Iraq with the combat vehicles.

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http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/May/03/ln/ln07p.html
The Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Stryker project ready to roll

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

After four years, a 3,000-page environmental impact report and a federal lawsuit, the Army's planned Stryker brigade for Hawai'i appears to be a reality.

And not a minute too soon, at least in terms of the Army's timetable for bringing approximately 300 armored vehicles to the state, a move that will fundamentally change the way the Army operates here.

The first ground will be turned this month on a series of projects that will transform land on O'ahu and the Big Island for use by the 3,818-soldier unit. The 19-ton "Strykers" begin to arrive a year from now, and the unit is expected to be operational in 2007.

The project, one of the Army's biggest in Hawai'i since World War II, will include the creation of 71 miles of private trails on O'ahu and the Big Island, six new firing ranges, two airfield upgrades, and the purchase of 1,400 acres adjacent to Schofield Barracks.

The pace of the $1.5 billion project picked up almost immediately once the Army prevailed last week in a legal battle against three Native Hawaiian groups that filed suit in federal court to halt the brigade's arrival.

Construction contracts worth approximately $225 million for fiscal 2005 will go out to bid in the next six months, said Ron Borne, the Army's transformation director here. Fiscal 2006 probably will see $125 million in construction, he said. Other projects will be completed through 2010. The first contract was a $9.2 million award to Parsons Corp. to build a small-arms qualification range on Schofield Barracks, Borne said. The work, part of a plan to consolidate pistol, rifle and machine-gun marksmanship ranges, will include digging trenches for targets, grading, utility work and construction of an administration building and control tower.

Don McClarin, principal project manager for Parsons in Honolulu, said no labor or management will be brought in from the Mainland, so all jobs will involve local labor or subcontracts with local firms. Parsons, as managing partner of Parsons-UXB Joint Venture, performed the Kaho'olawe ordnance cleanup. The training-range job is expected to be completed in March, and over that time, McClarin estimates roughly four dozen people will be employed. "There's certainly the prospect of a lot more work for the people working on the contract with us," McClarin said.

The Army has paid $15.9 million for 1,400 acres south of Schofield for another firing range and Stryker brigade motor pool. The title changed hands last September. As part of the conversion, the Army is seeking to buy from Parker Ranch about 23,000 acres adjoining 109,000-acre Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island for a maneuver and blank-fire area. It also would rebuild an old tank trail from Kawaihae to Pohakuloa sometime around 2010 or later, which soldiers would use to move the Stryker vehicles from the port to the training area. Negotiations with Parker Ranch are expected to start soon.

The Army also has to buy land from the Galbraith Estate and Dole Foods on O'ahu to create a trail system through Helemano to Kahuku, where up to two dozen buildings will go up to create an urban environment training area. Another trail will link to Dillingham Airfield. "It's not as extensive as you would think to build the roads because we're actually using the current agriculture roads," Borne said. "We'll just harden them for our vehicles."

A contract for the trail to Helemano is expected to be awarded this year, but the 15-mile stretch to Dillingham is expected to be constructed around 2010. The transformation of Schofield's 2nd Brigade is expected to bring nearly $700 million in construction projects to O'ahu and the Big Island.

The costs will include up to $30 million to buy 23,000 acres and expand the Pohakuloa Training Area, more than $50 million for a Stryker brigade maintenance motor pool on O'ahu, and $30 million for a mock city for training in Kahuku.

The previously completed environmental review states that 1,736 tons of dust would be generated from increased vehicle use, an increase of 81 percent. The Army said there would be significant effects on cultural and biological resources, but that mitigation efforts could reduce them. Borne said that for the project's size, the visual and noise impact of the Strykers will be minimal. The same .50-caliber machine gun and MK-19 grenade launcher on the Strykers are fired today at Schofield. "The frequency of noise from training should be almost infinitesimal to the folks around it," Borne said. "It may happen a little more often because there will be more soldiers firing, but until the mobile gun system arrives, and we would fire that infrequently, I don't think they would notice anything differently than what they would be hearing today."

The Stryker, championed by Kaua'i native and former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, has been controversial since its inception in 1999. Debates have raged over the decision to move away from heavier tracked vehicles such as tanks in favor of the faster, more lightly armored Strykers.

The new unit will be built around the 2nd Brigade at Schofield. Another 810 soldiers will be added, bringing the total strength to 3,818, Borne said. David A. Bramlett, a retired Army four-star general who headed U.S. Forces Command and now lives on the North Shore, said the Stryker will augment the Army's arsenal. "It is a great response to what's needed, which is flexibility, deployability and greater lethality — and, of course, you get ballistic protection for the infantrymen," he said. Bramlett remembers joining the 25th Division in 1964, when it had a tank battalion and armored cavalry squadron, a force that deployed to Vietnam. "It's a departure for light infantry to (go to a medium-weight combat vehicle). We haven't had a fleet of wheeled combat vehicles in some time in the Army's history," he said.

A lawsuit claiming the Army didn't adequately consider the project's effects on the environment or consider alternative sites was thrown out last week. However, Jim Albertini, a longtime Hawai'i peace activist who lives on the Big Island, believes the Stryker brigade still can be stopped. "There may or may not be additional legal appeals, but the real decision about Strykers in Hawai'i will not be made by a court, the Army, or the U.S. Congress," Albertini said. "It will be made by the people of Hawai'i and their will to resist and stand for peace, justice and the 'aina with what Gandhi called 'truth-force' — nonviolent action done with Hawaiian style aloha."

Hawai'i to host 1 of up to 8 units Hawai'i was picked for the fifth of up to eight fast-strike units that fill the gap between light infantry and heavy tank forces. There are 10 Stryker variants, including a troop carrier and medical vehicle with four beds to treat casualties on the move. A version with a 105 mm gun is still in development. The eight-wheeled vehicles have been deployed twice from Fort Lewis, Wash., to Iraq, where soldiers say that, with add-on armor, they have been effective against rocket-propelled grenades.

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http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/May/04/ln/ln15p.html
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Groups will appeal Stryker lawsuit ruling

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

Three Native Hawaiian and environmental groups are continuing their legal challenge to the Army's plans to establish a 3,818-soldier Stryker brigade unit in Hawai'i. The three groups yesterday notified the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that they will appeal Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra's decision last week rejecting their lawsuit.

The groups want the appeals court to declare that the Army violated the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition, they hope to file within a week a request for an injunction that would halt the project until the appeal is decided.

William Aila, spokesman for Na 'Imi Pono, one of the groups, said the Army misled the public about the project. "We have no choice but to seek justice at the next level," he said.

David Henkin, Earthjustice lawyer representing the groups, said they're "confident the 9th Circuit will hold the Army accountable for ignoring NEPA's democratic mandates to involve Hawai'i's people and to consider alternative transformation locations that would minimize the harm to Hawai'i's host culture and the Islands' unique biological treasures."

Capt. Kathleen Turner, an Army spokeswoman, said the Army anticipated the appeal and respects the groups' right to challenge the decision. But she said the Army believes Ezra was correct in his decision and will defend its ability to continue the establishment of the Stryker unit. "We believe the district court's decision was the appropriate decision," Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Yee said. "We don't think there's any showing of prejudice (harm) that warrants injunctive relief."

The appeal extends the challenge to the $1.5 billion project to transform the Army's 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) by 2007. The plans include bringing in about 300 armored vehicles and converting land on O'ahu and the Big Island for the unit.

The three groups — Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition, Na 'Imi Pono and Kipuka — filed a lawsuit last year alleging that the project will damage Native Hawaiian cultural sites and harm endangered species and their habitats. The groups contend the Army violated federal law by not adequately involving the public in the proposal and not considering locations outside of Hawai'i for the unit.

But Ezra has twice ruled against the groups. In November, the judge refused to issue an injunction halting the project. He said any delay would have harmed the Army's fight in the global war on terrorism. Last week, Ezra issued a 24-page decision that essentially dismissed the lawsuit. He ruled that the groups raised their objections too late. He went on to say that even if the groups had raised those issues earlier, the Army had properly notified the public and had adequately considered what impacts the project might have on the environment.

Turner yesterday said the country is at war and the Army has "an operational requirement to train and maintain combat ready troops, including (the Stryker unit)." She said the Army must continue to implement the Stryker projects "to ensure our units are properly postured to fully support all of our nation's commitments."

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http://honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050905/NEWS08/509050349/1001
Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, September 5, 2005

Hawaiians protest Stryker plan

By Peter Boylan

WAHIAWA — More than 200 Native Hawaiian activists and others rallied yesterday against the military's plans to station a Stryker brigade in Hawai'i.

The protesters, many of them dressed in red and hoisting upside down Hawaiian flags, demonstrated at a park near Whitmore Village, then marched to Kukaniloko, near Wahiawa, the site of sacred birthing stones.

Ikaika Hussey, a member of DMZ Hawai'i Aloha 'Aina, said his group views the scheduled arrival of the roughly 300-vehicle Stryker brigade as another military land grab.

"We have a tradition of resistance. We know that we can outlast the U.S. military because we want to live here. We want to be in Hawai'i nei. This is our homeland," he said yesterday. "For a thousand generations we have lived here and we will continue to live here."

The groups oppose the plan, which would occupy up to 28,000 acres on the Big Island and O'ahu. They fear the brigade and the live-fire exercises that are a staple of their training will lead to the destruction of cultural sites, natural resources and the contamination of the environment.

"The only way we're going to win this battle is by constant pressure applied constantly," said William Aila, a member of Hui Malama 'O Makua, a group dedicated to protecting and preserving Makua Valley. "And it will continue to be applied until what is pono occurs."

Kuulei Badua, a Wahiawa resident, said: "How many years now they just bombing all the time. We can't just let them come in and take our beautiful land."

The 2nd Brigade at Schofield Barracks is being equipped with about 300 eight-wheeled armored vehicles, the first of which is expected to arrive next spring. Army officials expect 1,000 more troops in Hawai'i to run the $1.5 billion Stryker Brigade. Army plans include $693 million in construction, the acquisition of 1,400 acres on O'ahu and 23,000 acres on the Big Island and networks of private trails for the 20-ton Strykers.

The Army's environmental review states that there would be significant effects on cultural and biological resources, but that mitigation efforts could reduce them.

Amid hot and humid temperatures, the group marched yesterday along muddy roads in from Kahi Kani Park to Kukaniloko, the piko of O'ahu, to demonstrate their opposition. Police flanked the protesters as they marched, controlling traffic.

Representatives of three Native Hawaiian and environmental groups who filed a lawsuit last year challenging the Army's plans to establish the Stryker brigade were among the demonstrators.

'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition, Na 'Imi Pono and Kipuka said in the lawsuit that the project would damage Native Hawaiian cultural sites and harm endangered species and habitats.

But Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra has twice ruled against them. In November, the judge refused to issue an injunction halting the project. He said any delay would hamper the global war on terrorism.

In April, Ezra dismissed the lawsuit, saying the groups raised their objections too late. He said the Army had properly notified the public and had adequately considered what environmental impacts the project might have.

The three groups plan to appeal.


Photo was part of the Advertiser article above. Photo original URL:
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http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2005/10/26/local/local02.txt
West Hawaii Today (Kona), October 26, 2005

Stryker brigade training to come to Big Island by 2006

by Tiffany Edwards

HILO -- An Army Stryker Brigade will be coming to Pohakuloa Training Area by 2006, despite a federal lawsuit and irrespective of acquiring 23,000 acres of Parker Ranch.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who took command of the 25th Infantry Division in June, was in Hilo Tuesday to tell business leaders he expects 300 Stryker vehicles to arrive on Oahu in the summer of 2006 and soldiers to arrive on the Big Island for training as a Stryker Brigade Combat Team by the fall of 2006.

Mixon said the Army Corps of Engineers has been negotiating with Richard Smart Trust (Parker Ranch) for the acquisition of up to 23,000 acres of land referred to as Keamuku adjacent to the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). Congress has allocated $30 million toward a land purchase.

Mixon said the Keamuku parcel will "enhance" Stryker training with more acreage for soldiers to traverse in the eight-wheel, 19-ton Strykers. But he added that if the parcel cannot be acquired, it won't delay training.

He said if the Army obtains the Keamuku parcel, it will be used only for Stryker maneuver training, not live-fire training because of the parcel's proximity to Waikoloa Village.

Mixon estimated Big Island residents won't see more than 30 Stryker vehicles -- enough for a company to use -- until the Army constructs a battle area complex.

Congress authorized $34 million for the 2,075-acre battle area complex, along with the $30 million Keamuku land purchase, and $9.3 million for a tactical vehicle wash rack.

Federal lawmakers also authorized funds for the Saddle Road realignment. Mixon said Tuesday that six miles of grading is complete between the Mauna Kea Access Road and the Mauna Kea State Park with paving to start in the spring of 2006, once the grading from Mauna Kea State Park to PTA is complete.

Easement for a military vehicle trail between Kawaihae Harbor and PTA has not been acquired, so next fall Stryker vehicles will be transported to PTA from the harbor via public roads, Mixon said. He added they would not be transported during peak traffic hours.

"We certainly would be good neighbors to the surrounding community," Mixon said.

Along those lines, the Army is preparing a dust monitoring plan that once completed will be available to the public.

Mixon said the lawsuit filed by Ilioulaokalani Coalition, Na Imi Pono and Kipuka in August has not stopped the Army's preparation for training the Stryker Brigade Combat Team at both PTA and Schofield Barracks.

The federal lawsuit alleges the Army failed to consider other locations than Hawaii in its final environmental impact statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The 25th Infantry Division is the fifth Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the U.S. Army. There are three other Stryker teams based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., Anchorage, Alaska, and a sixth planned for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

One of Fort Lewis' three Stryker teams was the first to use its training and the Stryker vehicles in Iraq.

Mixon replaced Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson in late June when Olson retired. Mixon said he has been "training for this all (his) adult life" and said it is an honor to be commander of a transforming division.

Mixon participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as staff director of the Combined Joint Task Force 180. His most recent assignment was with the U.S.. Southern Command as operations director.


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