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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 5:12 p.m., Thursday, February 2, 2006

Army's bid to fire train at Makua Valley denied

Advertiser Staff

A federal judge today denied the Army's bid to resume live fire training at Måkua Valley for troops scheduled to be sent to Iraq this summer.

The Army had argued casualties will be higher without the training, but U. S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway said the Army has alternative training sites.

"If the training at Måkua is essential, it is the Army's burden to show that," the judge said in a 35-page decision. "The Army does not do that."

The Army is prevented from live firing training at the valley until it completes an environmental impact statement required under federal environmental laws. The Army has indicated it hopes to complete it later this year, but argued the live fire training is essential for the Iraq-bound troops.

Malama Måkua, the community group that filed the federal lawsuit challenging the live fire training, is seeking the study because its members believe priceless cultural sites and endangered species would be destroyed in the exercises.