Sen. Hirono Seeks Additional Protection for Hawai‘i in Light of Escalating Threats
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, added provisions to the National Defense Authorization Act that direct the U.S. Department of Defense to evaluate additional steps that can be taken to protect Hawai‘i and the Indo-Asia-Pacific region from growing threats, including recent actions taken by North Korea.
The bill, which sets policy and funding levels for the DOD and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, passed the Senate 89-8.
“As we continue to face threats from North Korea, the United States must ensure that Hawai‘i and the Indo-Asia-Pacific region are protected,” said Sen. Hirono. “These additional amendments call for the Department of Defense to report back on recommended changes that will enhance security in the region, and also evaluate how China’s influence impacts regional security.”
The additional amendments Sen. Hirono secured would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress that evaluates security challenges facing the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and calls for an external, independent assessment on how China’s influence through economic and military investments affects regional security.
Sen. Hirono fought to include the following provisions in the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA:
Assessing China’s Influence: Sen. Hirono included a provision that calls for a independent study of how China’s expanded influence through economic and military investments across the Indo-Asia-Pacific impacts regional security and U.S. policy for mitigating any harmful effects resulting from China’s actions.
Enhancing Protection of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region: Sen. Hirono added in a provision that requires the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with regional commanders, to submit to Congress a plan that includes the consideration of increased visible presence of key U.S. military assets.
Strengthening Energy Resiliency: Sen. Hirono included several provisions that protect energy grids from cyber-attacks, authorize the Department of Defense to increase energy resiliency and conservation projects, and encourage the Department of Defense to work with the private sector to finance renewable energy projects on military installations.
Fighting Back Against PACOM Headquarters Cuts: Sen. Hirono included a provision requiring the Department of Defense to review data on past growth of specific headquarters staffs as well as current and projected mission requirements before assessing staff cuts. This provision will ensure that any personnel reductions deemed necessary by the Secretary do not disproportionately impact commands like PACOM, protecting jobs in Hawai‘i and ensuring that PACOM has the personnel necessary to cover the largest area of responsibility of any of the department’s combatant commands.
Holding the Department of Defense Accountable on Red Hill: Sen. Hirono included language she worked on with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) that emphasizes the strategic importance of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and directs the Department of Defense to provide budget justification materials on how funds will be used to prevent fuel leaks on Red Hill.
Improving Missile Defense Capabilities: Sen. Hirono worked with Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to include a provision to improve the capabilities of our missile defense system.
Strengthening U.S.-Palau Compact: Sen. Hirono worked with the Committee to include an agreement that keeps our commitment to Palau, a key strategic partner, by funding the U.S.-Palau compact. The president’s budget includes $123.9 million for the United States’ remaining funding commitment to the U.S.-Palau Compact.
Establishing Asia Pacific Stability Initiative: Sen. Hirono and Sen. John McCain included a provision authorizing an Asia Pacific Stability Initiative to help warfighting capability and to strengthen partnerships with allies in the region.
Funding Anti-Corrosion Efforts: Sen. Hirono supported increased funding for corrosion control and prevention efforts, which is important to Hawai‘i as its unique environment often leads to significant corrosion of military assets such as helicopters and other aircraft. She also included a provision directing a GAO review of the Pentagon’s corrosion control and prevention efforts.
Strengthening Research Agreements with Universities: Sen. Hirono included provisions that support research and development agreements between the Department of Defense and universities and provides the Secretary of Defense authority to establish mechanisms for expedited access to technical talent and expertise at academic institutions to support critical missions such as cybersecurity, unmanned systems, and advanced materials among others.
Promoting Military Family Stability: Sen. Hirono included several provisions to help military families undergoing permanent change of stations within the U.S., including more flexibility with staying in government quarters and the creation of a pilot program on public-private partnerships for telework facilities on overseas military installations to improve hiring of military spouses.
Investing in Military Construction in Hawai‘i
- $90 million for Fort Shafter’s Command and Control Facility
- $73.2 million for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s Sewer Lift Station
- $65.9 million for the Navy’s Command Facility
- $26.5 million for Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s Mokapu Gate
- $25 million for the Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area
- $19 million for the Navy’s MV-22 Landing Pad
- $5.5 million for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s Consolidated Training Facility
- $5 million for Wahiawa’s Kunia Tunnel Entrance
Streamlining of Acquisition Process: Sen. Hirono worked with the Committee to include provisions that would streamline the acquisition process, including a provision to support innovation at Department of Defense laboratories and a training program to establish in-resident target training on agile acquisition.
Expanding Major Range and Test Facility Bases: Sen. Hirono supported efforts to create incentives for the Department of Defense workforce at laboratories and test ranges and to encourage the Department of Defense to use existing authority and $150 million in funding for infrastructure improvements at major range and test facility bases.
Strengthening Cybersecurity Education and Training Programs: Sen. Hirono included provisions allowing easier access to universities for engineering or operational needs for cybersecurity. In addition, Sen. Hirono included increased funding for Maui’s high performance computing modernization program and well as increased funding for universities and industry research centers to encourage the development of new technology and defense systems.