PTA would see significant upgrades under bill
Pohakuloa Training Area could see upgrades, including a runway capable of handling large air transports, under a bill aimed at enhancing the U.S. military’s operations in the Pacific region.
In its section on PTA, the Asia-Pacific Region Priority Act says the military should maximize its use for training, including exercises with other nations.
It also seeks to address transportation issues associated with sending soldiers to train at PTA from Oahu by recommending construction of a runway capable of handling C-17 transport planes and use of inactive high speed vessels.
The office of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the legislation would make PTA the “premier training range” in the region.
The Hawaii congresswoman’s office also said the bill would prioritize construction costs for a facilities master plan.
The bill addresses other issues, such as gaps in the United States’ ability to respond to threats in the region, cooperation with allies, handling of maritime disputes, and creates an office for developing policies on unmanned aircraft, known as drones.
Hanabusa’s office also said the bill provides $3 million for a Maui Space Surveillance Complex and helps ensure incompatible development doesn’t take place around the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai.
In a statement, Hanabusa said Hawaii is a key player in the nation’s “rebalance to the Asia-Pacific,” adding “this bill ensures that our state and our nation will continue to see the benefits of that role.”
Lt. Col. Eric Shwedo, PTA commander, said a runway capable of handling C-17 aircraft would significantly reduce the presence of military convoys on the Big Island, as well as lower transportation costs for personnel and cargo.
Shwedo said most soldiers are flown to the Big Island for training on Hawaiian Airlines.
The runway would need to be 5,000 feet long. The existing runway is 3,956 feet.
Cost estimates weren’t immediately available.
Shwedo said he hadn’t seen what else is included in the bill but added PTA wants to improve its ranges to meet requirements for helicopter units, as well as integrate training for aviation, infantry and artillery units.
He said he also wants to see temporary barracks used for decades replaced with permanent structures.
“A larger investment is needed on the buildings in the base,” Shwedo said.
He said PTA hosted several visits by Congressional delegation recently, including one last week.
Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune- herald.com.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Stephens Media LLC is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.