Saturday, January 6, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 6, 2001

Makua training decision must be made at home

As the U.S. Army and Leeward Coast community struggle to sort out the issues surrounding live-ammunition training in Makua Valley, both sides would do well to remember Kahoolawe.

The painful struggle to end the use of that island as a target and live-training site took years, strained relations between the military and the civilian community and even led to the loss of life.

Kahoolawe was not "returned" until pressure reached Washington, where the decision was made primarily on the basis of politics rather than sound community planning.

The situation at Makua should not — must not — reach that same level.

A study commissioned by the Army has found a number of centuries-old Hawaiian archaeological sites in the valley that should be preserved and protected.

If that can be accomplished in the context of continued training, a compromise is possible.

The military makes a compelling case that live training is needed to keep its men and women ready enough to survive combat. But the days are long gone when the military can simply step in and claim the territory it needs to get its job done.

Although the military has used Makua for training since as far back as 1929, it must treat the situation as if it were asking to train there today for the very first time.

And as uncomfortable and awkward as this process may be, decision-making of this magnitude demands consultation, cooperation and consideration of local values.

That will work best if it happens here, at the local level. If Kahoolawe taught us anything, it taught us that if we cannot make the right decisions at home, someone somewhere else will make them for us.

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