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FY 2015 Defense Spending By State report now available for download.

Why A Big Boost In US Sea Power Could Be A Boon For Hawaii

WASHINGTON — U.S. military spending is on the rise, and Hawaii is likely to be a financial beneficiary, especially when it comes to expanded sea power.

A $578 billion defense bill, up $5 billion overall from last year, was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday on a bipartisan vote of 371-48. It included a $7 billion boost in procurement specifically for fighter jets, ships and helicopters.

The smooth passage of the House’s defense bill came a week after President Donald Trump said he planned to bolster defense spending next year by $54 billion. He’s expected to issue his proposed budget within the next few weeks.

Honolulu is headquarters for the U.S. Pacific Command, so an increase in defense spending likely means more ships stationed in the islands, more construction on military bases and an expansion of activity at the shipyard at Pearl Harbor. It is also likely to create more high-paid defense-related jobs in the future for Hawaii’s youths.

“We’re going to get more,” said U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, in an interview with Civil Beat on Wednesday. “A lot of it will be coming into the Pacific.”

She said that the U.S. buildup is coming in reaction to increased defense expenditures by China and Russia.

On the seas, for instance, the U.S. has 201 combat vessels, but China now has 235 and Russia has 185, according to a recent naval force analysis by the Mitre Corp. China has 63 attack submarines; the U.S. 54.

The U.S. still has the advantage, because it has many more large combat vessels such as aircraft carriers, according to the Mitre report, but the two other nations have been narrowing the gap.

“There’s no question the threat is Russia and China, which are building Navy ships at a fast clip,” Hanabusa told Civil Beat. “The question is if the U.S. can keep up and what the U.S. role should be.”

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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.