For People, Land, Air and Sea: Stop RIMPAC Military Exercises

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We call on the Hawaiʻi State Government to end the Rim of the Pacific exercises, known as RIMPAC.    RIMPAC pollutes our land, ocean and air, causes irreparable damage to vulnerable sea life, reefs and shorelines, and increases Hawai`i’s economic dependence on U.S. militarism.   We will not be silent in the face of such destruction nor will we be complicit in “war games” intended to prepare for wars of aggression against the peoples of other countries. 

 We instead demand that the Hawai`i State Government uphold and enforce Section I of the Hawai`i State Constitution which states that “the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawai`i's natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self-sufficiency of the State.”   RIMPAC exercises do the opposite. 

What is RIMPAC?   RIMPAC is the largest maritime military exercise in the world.  26 nations, more than 25,000 personnel,  50+ ships, 5 submarines, ground troops from 18 countries, and 250 planes are expected to participate in the month-long 2018 exercises.   RIMPAC has been held in Hawai`i biennially since 1971.  

What does RIMPAC do?    RIMPAC simulates a hypothetical sea-battle between countries.  Cruise missiles with a range of 300 nautical miles are fired from ships and submarines.  Land-based missiles fire on ships.  Planes drop bombs on ocean targets.    The latest in weaponry is tested and operations include amphibious operations, gunnery, counter-piracy, mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal, mass casualty exercises, and diving and salvage operations.   RIMPAC 2018 will host its first “Innovation Fair” at Pearl Harbor Naval Base which will showcase the latest U.S. weaponry for the international arms market. 

 How does RIMPAC harm Hawai`i?   Following are just a few examples: 

  •  Retired military ships are towed out to sea and then targeted with missiles and torpedoes until they sink to a watery graveyard on the ocean floor.   There they leach toxic chemicals, including PCBs, which accumulate in the bodies of fish, dolphins and whales – and ultimately into our food.
  • Amphibious landing exercises, which include heavy tracked vehicles, damage reefs, erode shoreline, and endanger wildlife.
  • Military sonar and underwater bomb detonations have been proven to wreak havoc on whales and dolphins by driving them from feeding areas, causing them to beach in panic, interfering with communication and mating, causing hemorrhages and embolisms in their bodies.
  • An increase in toxic waste, noise pollution, harmful air emissions, and fuel spillage diminishes the quality of life throughout the State of Hawai`i.
  • The Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area on the island of Hawai`i hosts live-fire training for ground troops from other countries who leave their ships to “practice with the entire gamut of weapons systems, everything from the pistol all the way up to 84mm rockets and missiles.”  Pohakuloa is almost 5 times the size of the island of Kaho`oloawe, the 5th largest island in Hawai`i that was completely destroyed by U.S. bombing practice, and is the U.S. military’s largest live-fire training range in the U.S.  It is located on the slopes of MaunaKea, a mountain held sacred by many.   RIMPAC exercises further destroy the environment and cultural sites and subject surrounding communities to aerosolized Depleted Uranium and other toxins.
  • The influx of more than 25,000 military personnel to Hawai`i increases the sex industry, supported by sex trafficking.

The enormous military presence in Hawai`i has done, and continues to do, irreparable damage to Hawai`i’s people, land, air and sea.  Areas that have been used for live fire training and bombing practice are uninhabitable; bombing and live fire practice is not only continuing but escalating in the age of the “Pacific Pivot”.  Indigenous Hawaiian cultural sites have been destroyed.  U.S. Military fuel storage tanks are leaking poisons into the drinking water in Hawai`i's most populous city. Vast areas of land and water are so toxic as to be unusable.  In a state where land is extremely limited the U.S. military occupies a larger percentage of land than in any other state, paying only $1/year for each base or tract.  This has contributed to making Hawai`i #1 in cost of living, as well as in homelessness.    RIMPAC exercises further contribute to this destruction.