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NEWS | Aug. 15, 2023

PTA continues to draw dignitaries due to critical mission in the Pacific

By Amy Philips

Pōhakuloa Training Area’s is critical training support role in the Indo-Pacific realm, and the Army’s request to extend the 2029 State Land Lease of the approximately 23,000 acre-parcel has drawn a steady flow of high-level visitors in the last two years. Visitors includes Hawai’i State and County elected and government officials, Congressional leaders and their representatives from across the country, and the Secretary of the Army.

Since the standing up of the Army’s Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) in 2014 on Oahu, PTA has seen a steady increase in training requirement. The JPMRC is designed to provide realistic training and enhance readiness and interoperability throughout the Indo-Pacific region between the 25th Infantry Division, and allies from Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and other countries. JPMRC is part of a network of regional training platforms to enhance troop readiness.

“Supporting large scale exercises like the Army’s JPMRC and the Navy’s RIMPAC the training within the State-owned land at PTA vital to support the Department of Defense,” said PTA Commander Lt. Col. Timothy Alvarado. “The Army has invested millions in utilities, critical infrastructure, maneuver land, and key training facilities at PTA, some of which are not available elsewhere in Hawai’i.” The State-owned land also provides access to Keamuku Maneuver Area and would physically divide the installation should the lease not be renewed.

As the 2029 lease expiration nears, PTA has seen an increase of visits by dignitaries. In the last three months alone, PTA hosted five congressional visits which focused on PTA priorities, infrastructure, community relations initiatives.

Bradley Plunkett, deputy military legislative assistant for Senator John Boozman (Arkansas) and a group of other Congressional staff visited PTA on August 9. The group are all part of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and visiting military installations to gain better understanding of missions, capabilities and shortfalls. On August 11, an additional two groups from the HAC also visited as part of their Indo-Pacific military installations tour.

Plunkett says they hear a lot on what’s going on here in the Pacific ‘on the hill.’ “It’s hard to get a full understanding without getting out here and seeing it first hand,” said Plunkett. “What we just saw right there [PTA Green House] with the conservation, those are things we’ve never would’ve know about or fully grasp without actually seeing it.”

“It’s refreshing to see all the great things happening here and to know that what Congress is investing in is working,” said Plunkett. “Obviously there is more than can be done but I think a lot of good things are happening.”

“It’s a pleasure and honor to host these dignitary visits because it’s our chance to shine as well as an opportunity to discuss how we need support to make PTA even better,” said Alvarado.