U.S. Army Garrison Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) is critical role to building readiness for troops in Hawai’i, said the Commander of the 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Hawaii in an update to members of the Hawai’i Island Chamber of Commerce, April 3, 2023.
In his remarks, Maj. Gen. Joe Ryan covered three topics: China, the Army in the Pacific, and how the public can help the Army.
“There’s a lot of talk about China in the news…especially in this region of the world,” said Ryan. “We don’t want to start a conflict or a war with China because that’s something that nobody wants.”
“We also don’t want to contain China,” said Ryan. “China is an independent sovereign nation and they have as much right to operate in this world as any other sovereign nation does. But what we ask China to do, and what we ask all nations in the world to do, is to operate in a rules-based order.”
He explained the Department of Defense (DoD) developed an Integrated Deterrence strategy to address this issue, which is a holistic government approach. The military concept of deterrence includes capability, posture, signaling, and will. “It is a fine line between being a capable deterrent and being provocative towards war with an increasingly aggressive and unpredictable China in this region of the world,” said Ryan. Ryan added that Pōhakuloa Training Area plays a key role in the capability component of integrated deterrence.
Ryan cited the Secretary of Army Christine Wormuth’s statement that PTA is “the Center of Gravity for the Army in the Pacific” after her January visit to the installation. “But PTA is not just the center of gravity for the Army, it’s the center of gravity for the joint force,” said Ryan. This includes all branches of the U.S. military, and allies and partners in the region. “We are in a joint region of the world which requires joint solutions, as General Flynn likes to say.” Flynn is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific.
Ryan said the Army’s has been in the Indo-Pacific region for a long time, and the 25th Infantry Division has been on Oahu since its establishment in 1941. “Our home is Hawai’i and we draw strength from the Leilehua plains where the ancient Hawaiians warriors trained to fight their own wars,” Ryan stated.
“It is very important that we are open, transparent and communicative to the people of Hawai’i about the mission and activities at Pōhakuloa Training Area.” He mentioned PTA’s April 20 open house is a perfect opportunity to see first-hand and learn about these activities. “But any day can be PTA day, we would love to show what PTA is all about,” said Ryan.
“We [the Army] are always available to speak...outreach for us is really important,” said Ryan. “We are honored to be members of the community, we are honored to serve our country and the people of Hawai’i.”
He wrapped up his speech by asking the audience for their help. “We need you inspire young men and women to serve in the military because none of what I’ve talked about today is possible without good people,” Ryan stated. The Army needs to be a broad representation of the country and its values.
Ryan reported that retention is very high. “General McConville, our Chief of Staff of the Army, says it this way - We recruit Soldiers, we retain families,” said Ryan. “Because when we bring people into the service, they realize the goodness that service has connected to it, they decide to stay.”
The Chamber’s President Doug Simons opening remarks also emphasized PTA’s importance to the community. “PTA provides emergency rescue services which is super important to us in the Mauna Kea area so don’t underestimate the importance of them to us,” said Simons. “No one else can provide the emergency services that the observatories rely on. Big mahalo to PTA.” Simon also serves as the director for the University of Hawai’i Institute for Astronomy which has many observatories at the Mauna Kea summit.
For more information on the DoD Integrated Deterrence strategy, read this article.