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Fri May 04, 2007 - West Edition
HONOLULU (AP) The military in Hawaii would receive more than $550 million for several construction projects next year under President Bush’s budget proposal.
Bush’s request for the state was the highest in the nation and is three times the funding he proposed this year.
Under the proposal, the Navy would get $99.9 million to build a facility at Pearl Harbor to help submarines maintain the stealth and the Air Force to add a $16.5 million expansion to its surveillance operations center at Hickam Air Force Base.
Other projects include $65.4 million for a Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station in Wahiawa and $121 million for barracks at Fort Shafter, Wheeler Army Air Field and the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe.
It also includes $136 million to continue building a National Security Agency regional operations center and $88 million for the 20-year “Whole Barracks Renewal” program revamping all soldier housing at Schofield Barracks.
The president’s military construction request is only the first step in the congressional approval process, which often leads to adjusted dollar amounts and projects.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Alexandria, Va., said Hawaii is becoming more important to the nation’s defense because of potential threats in the Pacific region from North Korea and China.
“It is in the middle of the Pacific rather than on the far side of the world from the key threats we face,” Thompson said. “The military has figured out that being halfway to Asia is a much more useful place to have your troops stationed than in the continental United States.”
Military construction funding for Hawaii has varied over the past five years, according to Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye’s staff.
The state received $258 million in 2003, $339 million in 2004 and $368 million in 2005. Last year, funding fell to $354 million. Congress hasn’t approved a final spending legislation for this year, but the president requested $186.1 million for the state while the House passed $192.2 million and the Senate approved $209 million.