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VIDEO: Hirono Questions Nominee to be Chief of Staff of Army on Importance of Community Outreach and Addressing Facility Maintenance Backlog in Hawaii

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a full committee hearing, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, questioned General Randy A. George, who has been nominated to serve as the next Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. During her question line, Senator Hirono highlighted recent problems caused by the significant lack of investment in the maintenance and modernization of Hawaii's military infrastructure.

“As Chair of the Readiness Subcommittee, I have made very clear the importance of infrastructure as a top priority and the Army—like every service—has a deep backlog of maintenance and modernization for its facilities and basic infrastructure,” said Senator Hirono during the hearing. “In fact, in Hawaii there is a backlog of almost $5 billion in facilities maintenance and modernization.”

General George echoed Senator Hirono’s concerns and reiterated how important military infrastructure replacement, repair, and maintenance are. He went on to cite the critical role that Schofield Barracks, Pohakuloa Training Area, and other military installations and training facilities in Hawaii serve in ensuring the readiness of the Army and the military overall.

“What I’d like to see going forward, under your leadership, is a more obvious commitment to infrastructure replacement, maintenance, modernization,” continued Senator Hirono. “We wait until things fall apart, you know, where electricity goes out at Tripler—the major hospital in Hawaii—and you can’t have that; not to mention the huge concerns regarding Red Hill.”

Senator Hirono also emphasized the importance of working with Hawaii’s communities, especially the Native Hawaiian community, as the Army renegotiates its land leases.

“You did mention the importance of renegotiating our leases for training, especially Pohakuloa, and part of those renegotiations is, very much, talking with the community” said Senator Hirono. “I’d like to have your commitment that you will make sure that that kind of outreach is occurring. The last thing we need to happen for these really critical training areas is some concerns raised that we have not addressed due to some lack of outreach and continuing discussions with, especially, the Native Hawaiian community.”

General George agreed with Senator Hirono’s statement and committed to partnering with local communities throughout the land lease renegotiation process. At the end of her question line, Senator Hirono urged General George to reevaluate the Army’s land requirements and consider returning some of the land to the state if confirmed as the next Chief of Staff of the Army.

“As we’re doing these leases, I think there may be an opportunity for the Army to really look at its needs and return some of the land to the state,” continued Senator Hirono. “That kind of process, I think, is very important. I hope you will conduct that with a view of returning the land that you don’t need to the state.”

A link to download video of Senator Hirono’s full question line is available here.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Chair of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Senator Hirono is focused on supporting the military community, advocating for veterans and servicemembers, helping to protect female servicemembers, overseeing the safe closure of Red Hill, rebuilding and modernizing military infrastructure in Hawaii and around the country, strengthening U.S. relationships with partners and allies, and advancing DOD’s work to combat climate change. Last month, she secured key priorities for Hawaii and the U.S. military during the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act. Yesterday, Senator Hirono also questioned General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., who has been nominated to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.