Hawai'i State News

Hirono presses Pentagon about need for Hawai‘i unified missile defense plan

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As tensions rise around the Pacific, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono wants answers about missile defense in Hawai‘i and she’s taking senior military officials to task about the Pentagon’s seeming lack of a strategy to defend the islands.

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono speaks Feb. 28, 2023, during a meeting in Washington, D.C. Screenshot/file.

Hirono on Thursday during a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, about the need for a robust, unified plan for missile defense of Hawai‘i.

“Gen. VanHerck, you are responsible for homeland defense and you noted this morning that you have concerns about attack assessment and threat warning, and that brings me to concerns I have about the missile defense of Hawai‘i — concerns that I’ve been expressing for a number of years now,” Hirono said during the hearing. “And I do remain concerned that the Department of Defense does not have a plan to address the current and future missile defense needs of Hawai’i.”

Hirono, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and chairwoman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, is fighting to ensure the Defense Department is ready and able to defend Hawai‘i from foreign threats.


During a hearing last month, Hirono also pressed commanders of U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command about the roles their commands play in Hawai‘i’s missile defense. She has compared the lack of answers about missile defense to the ongoing fallout from the fuel contamination of the U.S. Navy’s O‘ahu water system from the Red Hill fuel farm.

“There is no single commander entirely responsible for coordinating the [Department of Defense’s] defense of Hawai‘i,” Hirono said. “So, just as we saw in the crisis at Red Hill, when no single leader has ultimate responsibility for the coordination and execution of the mission, there is room for issues to fall through the cracks and adding to the concerning lack of trust that Hawai‘i’s communities have regarding the military.”

Hirono is focused on overseeing the safe closure of Red Hill, rebuilding and modernizing military infrastructure in Hawai‘i and throughout the country, strengthening U.S. relationships with partners and allies and advancing the Defense Department’s work to combat climate change.



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