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Case: Enhancing Hawaii’s defense community

From Ed Case, candidate for U.S. Senate:

My top priority as U.S. Senator will be to grow our economy and create good jobs. For Hawaii that means in part maintaining and enhancing our current economic drivers.

At upwards of a quarter of our total economy and our second largest employer (after tourism), our defense community is not only an integral part of our fabric but a key economic pillar. For your Senator, that means providing strong leadership in DC that knows and values Hawaii’s military and its contributions to our national defense, and advocates effectively for our defense presence and to maximize its local contributions.

Above all, it means not taking our defense community for granted, for the next decades will bring severe budget pressures on our national defense and moves to realign and reduce our defense installations.

This could well include Hawaii, as we saw for example today with the Pentagon proposing another Base Realignment and Closure process (BRAC), which when last undertaken in 2005 almost resulted in closure of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, a key part of our military presence and economy.

Ten Principles. I will be guided by these 10 principles.

(1) Hawaii will continue to have a unique and growing responsibility and role in our national defense in this Pacific Century.

(2) Our defense community can and should continue to provide growing, diverse and quality job opportunities for Hawaii’s citizens.

(3) We can best enhance Hawaii’s defense community by growing our national economy; that ensures a realistic and affordable national defense.

(4) Hawaii defense spending benefits all sectors of our economy, especially our small businesses when their access to federal contracts is ensured.

(5) We should facilitate defense-private partnerships uniquely suited to Hawaii such as marine and alternate energy research and development.

(6) We cannot take Hawaii’s defense community for granted in the face of what will be decades of substantial budget pressures.

(7) We must assure our defense community what it needs to fulfill its mission, to include reasonable bases and training facilities, affordable housing and quality education.

(8) We must also ensure that our defense community remains a responsible and vested partner in Hawaii’s future, to include protecting our environment and culture.

(9) We must strengthen efforts to integrate Hawaii’s defense and civilian communities and to avoid stovepipe thinking.

(10) A Senator matters, from ensuring a strong, responsible and affordable national defense, to representing the interests and addressing the needs of Hawaii’s military, protecting and strengthening defense installations and programs, and assuring that Hawaii’s businesses and workers have full access to economic opportunities and jobs.

Ten Specifics. As examples, my agenda on enhancing Hawaii’s defense presence will include these 10 specifics.

Generational defense review. Advance the ongoing generational review of national defense policy with an increased focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Budget advocacy. Oppose “sequestration” of the defense budget or any other indiscriminate across-the-board defense cuts; advocate for budget decisions based on realistic assessments of threats and capabilities.

BRAC prep. Work with Hawaii’s military and civilian communities to improve all Hawaii defense installations (to include Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard) to prevent closures from any next BRAC process.

Targeted federal programs. Authorize federal programs and appropriate federal funds for public-private partnerships in alternate energy and other Hawaii-suited R & D to leverage defense efforts into private economic diversification.

UH. Continue and enhance the University of Hawaii’s longstanding role in defense-related R & D through its applied research lab and otherwise.

Neighbor Islands. Assure that defense community programs and expenditures are distributed equitably beyond Oahu.

Hawaii business. Ensure that Hawaii businesses and products, from construction to energy to agriculture and beyond, are provided full access to defense procurement, to include expansion of the Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

Small/veterans/women/Native Hawaiian businesses. Strengthen federal procurement preference law to assure full participation by Hawaii businesses.

Federal impact aid. Fully and fairly fund federal impact aid programs to ensure that Hawaii public education is compensated for military dependents.

Open door/ showing up/integration. Maintain an open door policy for and spend time with Hawaii’s defense community; support all efforts to develop joint military/civilian advocacy for enhancing Hawaii’s defense presence such as the Military Affairs Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.

With strong and effective leadership on these and other initiatives, we can assure that Hawai’i’s defense community remains a responsible and sustainable foundation of our national defense and our local economy.

Warm aloha,
Ed Case

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