Secretary of the Army visits PTA
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area biologist Tiana Lackey providing information on the natural resources program to the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Christine E. Wormuth, during her visit to PTA, Jan. 23, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Phillips) VIEW ORIGINAL
Secretary of the Army visits PTA
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Christine E. Wormuth; along with Congressman Ed Case; U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General, Gen. Charles Flynn; and U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) Commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, during a media interview at PTA’s Greenhouse with Big Island Now news director Tiffany DeMasters, Jan. 23, 2023. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Amy Phillips) VIEW ORIGINAL

PŌHAKULOA TRAINING AREA, Hawaii — The Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Christine E. Wormuth, visited Pōhakuloa Training Area, the Pacific’s premier training area on Jan. 23, as part of her visit to Hawaii to see first-hand the key training area and what it means to military training and readiness in the region.

During the visit Secretary Wormuth stated that Pōhakuloa Training Area is, “the center of gravity for Army training in the Pacific.” Her visit also serves to reinforce the Army’s appreciation of the local community’s support of Soldiers and their Families and to hear from Army leaders about land lease and infrastructure requirements.

Wormuth conducted an aerial tour of the installation and received a command brief at Pu’u Pōhakuloa from Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin, U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area commander and a tour of old and new barracks, as well as the installation’s greenhouse, which houses nearly two dozen threatened and endangered plant species.

“Pōhakuloa Training Area is critical to the readiness of our nation’s service members from throughout our armed services who are assigned to the region. Service members and units come to Pōhakuloa Training Area to get the most realistic training possible, and they leave here more ready and prepared. This not only makes a difference from an individual perspective, but also contributes to our security posture in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Cronin.

The approximately 23,000 acres of state-owned land at Pōhakuloa Training Area contains key infrastructure such as the installation’s water storage tanks, training equipment, ammunition supply point, maneuver areas and is the connective tissue of the installation.

“This training range is really important to us, but we also understand the values of the land to the Hawaiian citizens and Native Hawaiians, and we want to come to a solution that makes sense to all of the parties,” said Wormuth.

Accompanying the Secretary of the Army on this visit, were Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) for Hawaii the Honorable Noelani Kalipi and the Honorable Gil Tam; U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General, Gen. Charles Flynn; 25th Infantry Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Joe Ryan; and U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Commander, Col. Steve McGunegle.

During this visit, CASA Kalipi hosted a meeting with Kāhoahoa process participants, which is an on-going initiative to engage with Hawaii Island residents to foster a dialogue and deepen the understanding between the Army and the community. The lunch allowed the Secretary of the Army to hear directly from Hawaii Island residents about the complex issues and history of Hawaii and Pōhakuloa Training Area. Kalipi spearheaded this dialogue three years ago as an effort to maintain a continued rapport between residents and Army leaders.

“A community-based dialogue outside of the regulatory process creates room for the substantive discussions we need to have to really address longstanding issues,” said Kalipi. “The Secretary’s visit and her investment in building relationships demonstrates the Army’s commitment to Hawaii. She leads by example and inspires action.”

As a long-standing pledge to the community, PTA has robust community relations and natural and cultural resources programs. PTA has mutual aid agreements with the local government providing emergency services within a 400-square-mile-radius of the installation. Annually, PTA first responders support nearly 100 emergency calls outside of the installation in the interest of the safety and well-being of Hawaii Island residents and visitors alike. First responders also use PTA facilities for training, including Hawaii Police Department Special Response Team and Hawaii Fire Department.

In addition, PTA partners with rotating training units to donate thousands of pounds of food to the Hawaii Island Food Basket and several other community-based food programs to help those in need. Soldiers training at PTA also conduct local beach and highway clean-ups and next week will conduct a restoration event at the Girl Scout Camp Kilohana.

"I want to make sure we are giving appropriate access to everyone here on the big island to the land and working together with all the different stakeholders to take care of the land," said Wormuth.

PTA will also host an open house on April 20 — Experience PTA Day — and invites the public and all local schools to visit and learn about PTA up close and personal. There will be static military displays, Soldiers to talk story with and numerous hands-on activities to showcase the Army’s natural and cultural resource programs, our recycling center, and fire and police departments, among many other activities.

Community partners such as the USO, the Mauna Kea Observatories, and the Honoka’a Heritage Center will also have information booths. Visit the Pōhakuloa Training Area website for more information.