Hawaii

Annual Hawaii military spending hits $7.9 billion

Oct. 27 – The Pentagon Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation’s recently released annual report on defense spending by state shows that military spending continues to play a prominent role in Hawaii’s economy.

The Pentagon Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation’s recently released annual report on defense spending by state shows that military spending continues to play a prominent role in Hawaii’s economy.

Overall, the military spent $7.9 billion in the islands in fiscal 2021, which is 8.3% of Hawaii’s gross domestic product — up from 7.7% in 2019. This ranks it #2 in terms of spending Importance of military spending to a state’s overall economy. Virginia tops this list with defense spending, accounting for 10.2% of its GDP. According to figures released by the Pentagon, spending in Hawaii accounts for 1.4% of all defense spending.

In Hawaii, the US Indo-Pacific Command is based at Camp Smith, which oversees the military’s largest area of ​​operations. Hawaii serves as the nerve center for all operations in the Pacific, much of the Indian Ocean, East Asia, Australia and parts of the Arctic.

Additionally, Hawaii is unique in that it is one of the few states that has facilities and troops from every branch of the military. About half of military spending here goes to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Among the top companies to benefit from Pentagon spending in Hawaii, according to the OLDCC report, were Hensel Phelps Construction at $212.7 million; Smartronix, $107.8 million; and Vigor Industrial, $81.1 million.

Politicians have described Hawaii’s economy as a “three-legged stool” propped up by tourism, construction and defense spending. As the COVID-19 pandemic essentially halted tourism in 2020, state officials began turning to the military to help make up for losses.

Analysts from the state’s Department of Economy, Economic Development and Tourism noted that businesses in cities and towns more dependent on tourism suffered, while those near military bases weathered the pandemic more easily as spending continued. The OLDCC report found that Hawaii ranks 9th among states in spending on military personnel with $5.3 billion.

But the state’s dependence on defense spending has also been a source of controversy, with critics arguing that it leads to dependence. Additionally, there are ongoing concerns about noisy training in neighboring communities, training in areas that native Hawaiian cultural workers consider sacred, and the environmental impact of the military.

Hawaii’s relationship with the military is strained, particularly after the contamination of the Navy’s drinking water system, which serves 93,000 users, including civilians living in former military barracks, with fuel from the service’s underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The military is currently working to defuel and shut down the facility after initially defying a state order to drain its massive underground tanks, which sit just 100 feet above a critical aquifer that most of Honolulu relies on for clean drinking water is required.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has closed wells to curb possible further contamination after the Navy closed its Red Hill well. In March, the BWS urged Oahu residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use by 10% in preparation for the summer season, citing less-than-normal rainfall that contributed to drought concerns and the Red Hill Crisis.

In January, Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters and Vice Chair Esther Kia ‘aina wrote a letter to President Joe Biden warning that the water pollution crisis could have long-term consequences for the Hawaii-Pentagon relationship .

“We believe that the Navy’s improper handling of the Red Hill crisis endangers national security interests and the overall relationship between the U.S. military and the people of Hawaii,” the council members wrote. “[Hawaii has]supported the U.S. military’s strategic positions and assets in our communities for decades. However, this support is not unconditional.”

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