A delegation of state legislators and members of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Council (MAC) visited MCBH on July 29 to meet with the base commander, Colonel Brian Anniacharico, and his staff to discuss progress of military construction (MILCON) projects to upgrade infrastructure for its aviation units and training areas.

The delegation included State Senators Laura Thielen and Jill Tokuda; State Representatives Ken Ito, Gene Ward, Chris Lee and Cynthia Thielen; MAC consultant Jennifer Sabas; MAC members Garrett Grace, Roy Yee, Tyler Dos Santos-Tam and Ray Soon; and the Chamber’s Vice President for Military Affairs Charlie Ota.

MCBH includes all Marine Corps bases in Hawaii to include the primary base in Kaneohe Bay, Camp H.M. Smith in Halawa, Marine Corps Training Base Bellows in Waimanalo, Puuloa Firing Range in Ewa Beach, Manana Family Housing in Pearl City, a closed training area in Waikane Valley and a closed training area on Molokai Island.

Recently completed projects include a $13 million water front operations facility on MCBH and a new $25.4 million fitness center on Camp Smith. Approved MILCON projects under way on MCBH include a $46.6 million aviation operations complex, $54.5 million for new bachelor enlisted quarters, and $57.1 million for additional airfield apron and hangar to accommodate the arrival of the MV-22 Ospreys.

Additional MILCON projects being processed include additional support facilities for the MV-22s, expansion of aviation maintenance and mission support facilities, a new armory for the 3rd Marine Regiment and a new complex for the 3rd Radio Battalion. A number of other projects are included in the FY 15 and 16 submissions to support aviation operations and additional bachelor enlisted quarters.

Of primary concern to the Marines is the need for more training areas on Oahu. The training ranges at the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Hawaii Island are adequate, but it requires millions of dollars in additional funding to subsidize the high cost of travel to Hawaii Island.  Moreover, the ranges at PTA must be shared with large Army units on Schofield Barracks, the Hawaii National Guard and other authorized users. The current budget climate under sequestration will not provide sufficient funds to pay for travel to PTA. The Marines are seeking alternatives to increasing the availability of training areas on Oahu.

In closing, Colonel Anniacharico discussed the results of a recent study on the Marine Corps’ economic impact on windward communities. The military population includes 11,500 active duty military, over 7,000 family members, and 2,800 civilian employees and contractors. The survey indicates that MCBH accounts for more than $1.5 billion flowing into the local economy annually, and that it is the largest employer on the windward side.