Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Army today announced plans to reduce its end-strength by 40,000 soldiers over the next two years in a reduction in force (RIF). According to the plans released by the Army, Schofield Barracks will shrink by 1,214 soldiers—from 15,687 soldiers to 14,473 soldiers—and Fort Shafter will shrink by 229 soldiers—from 2,233 soldiers to 2,004 soldiers—by the end of fiscal year 2017. The Army had assessed potentially eliminating two Brigade Combat Teams and the 25th Infantry Division Headquarters at Schofield Barracks, which would have meant the departure of nearly 16,000 soldiers. Through the efforts of the community and Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation to underscore the state’s strategic role in the Asia-Pacific rebalance, the Army has put plans for larger downsizing in Hawai‘i on hold pending future action to address sequestration.
“Through our collective efforts we have been able to protect the vast majority of the soldiers here in Hawai‘i,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “It is disappointing that the Army made these reductions, but given the magnitude of the cuts that were contemplated, we are relieved that the worst case scenario did not occur. We are entering a challenging time, but also one that presents opportunities for Hawai‘i. There is bipartisan consensus that the Asia-Pacific rebalance is right for America, and we will continue to push for investments in Hawai‘i to implement the rebalance.”
“While unfortunate, the announcement from the Department of the Army was expected and, for our state, limited in scope,” said U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The importance of a strong military presence in Hawaii, to lead the strategic Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, cannot be stressed enough and is vital to protecting our nation’s interests. That is why the Budget Control Act, which mandated sequester levels, is dangerous. The Army’s proposal is a clear and concrete example of the impact the sequester could have on Hawaii. But it’s only one example. We also have to keep in mind that the foundation of a strong military is a strong economy. Sequestration will not just undermine the military’s readiness and the Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. It will make serious cuts in investments to education, transportation, community development, and other areas that are essential to a strong economy. I will continue to stand strong against the sequester, and will work with the Department of Defense, leaders throughout our state, and others to find a sustainable path forward that both invests in a military that can continue to perform on an ever-changing global stage, and a growing, middle class economy in Hawaii and across the country.”
“At a time when our nation faces growing security challenges around the world, cutting 40,000 troops from the US Army needlessly puts our country at risk. This reduction is occurring due to arbitrary budget ceilings in the Budget Control Act, without any consideration of what is in our strategic best interest,” said U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Hawai’i is losing more than 1,400 soldiers now, and could face deeper reductions if these across-the-board federal budget cuts continue. I will continue to work to end sequestration, as continued inaction will only serve to undercut our military’s ability to respond to emerging threats around the world.”
“The Army reiterated the importance of the Pacific today when announcing the impacts of their force structure realignment and the impacts on Hawaii,” said U.S. Representative Mark Takai (HI-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The fact that Hawaii gains mission expansion in the shift of major medical personnel and an Air Defense Headquarters show that the Army is committed to our state long-term. The shift from a Stryker Brigade to a Combat Infantry Brigade will result in a loss of 1,214 military personnel from Schofield Barracks, with another 229 coming from Fort Shafter, but the net total with the additional mission sets coming to Hawaii has yet to be determined. I would like to thank everyone in the community that helped with efforts to engage Army leadership, and note that without long-term budget fixes and further investment in our state, we must remain engaged and vigilant as the Army considers further future force structure decisions.”