Latest Articles

  • Getting Into Hot Water in the South China Sea

    · By Stephen O'Harrow

    As has been increasingly evident for the past couple of years, the “South China Sea” confrontation between China and its neighbors to the south (essentially the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in general, the Philippines and Viet Nam in particular) has the potential of constituting a casus belli, if caution is not exercised all around. But for the moment “caution” seems in even shorter supply than before.

    Of note is the contention by the People’s Republic of China that they rightfully own all the islands in the South China Sea, even though many of those islands are a great deal closer to the coasts of the other countries around that body of water and frequently within the internationally recognized 360 kilometers “economic zone” of various ASEAN nations and a lot further from China than 360 km.

    The United States, as part of its “pivot to Asia,” is getting more and more deeply involved in the issue. In addition, the U.S. has a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines. Both of these facts put America closer to the edge of conflict.

    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is greeted by Adm. Samuel Locklear III, as Carter and his wife, Stephanie, arrive in Honolulu last week. Carter was beginning a 10-day swing through the Asia-Pacific region.

    DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett/Joint Combat Camera Center

    New developments have put the “edge” only about 12 miles away. Just this past week, statements by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, first at Pearl

  • Living Hawaii: Where Life Isn’t as Expensive for Military Veterans

    · By Eric Pape

    For generations, people have dreamed of retiring in, or to, Hawaii. The magnetic pull of the islands to the baby boomer generation — people born in the 18 years after World War II — runs deep.

    The allure of island life and changing demographics explain why Hawaii is expected to have a huge elderly population by the year 2040 when nearly one-quarter of us will be seniors. If that state forecast proves true, it will amount to a near tripling of the senior population since 1980. Clearly, a lot of people who live, or visit, the islands saw — or still see — it as the ideal place to retire.

    All clichés about mai-tai sunsets, turquoise seas, the laid-back vibe and long and healthy lives aside, Hawaii’s high prices and its fast-growing elderly population are stirring up complex challenges for middle-class workers as they eye retirement.

    So, while Hawaii may remain prime retirement turf for rich people, it has slid down to 44th on’s list of the best states to retire in for people like you and me. Yes, despite the weather, the mellow pace and the aloha, Hawaii is just six slots from the bottom. One of the main reasons is the state’s cost of living, which is the highest in the nation.

    So it is worth exploring why the islands remain a good place to settle for one class of non-wealthy retirees: the men and women of the Armed Forces. Hawaii is the 12th best state for military retirees, according to a

  • Floating Military Radar a $2.2 Billion ‘Flop,’ LA Times Reports

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Ever see that thing in Pearl Harbor that looks like a giant floating golf ball?

    It’s technically a Sea-Based X-Band Radar designed to find missiles far away and send rockets to blow them up before they hit American soil.

    But a Los Angeles Times study calls the military project a “$2.2 billion flop.”

    “Although it can powerfully magnify distant objects, its field of vision is so narrow that it would be of little use against what experts consider the likeliest attack: a stream of missiles interspersed with decoys,” the newspaper reported Sunday.

    A fisherman watches as the heavy lift vessel MV Blue Marlin enters Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with the Sea Based X-Band Radar (SBX) aboard after completing a 15,000-mile journey from Corpus Christi, Texas.

    Marion Doss/U.S. Navy

    “SBX was supposed to be operational by 2005. Instead, it spends most of the year mothballed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii,” the story says.

    “The project not only wasted taxpayer money but left a hole in the nation’s defenses. The money spent on it could have gone toward land-based radars with a greater capability to track long-range missiles, according to experts who have studied the issue.”

    Read the full report here.

    Sea-Based X-Band Radar at Pearl Harbor.

    Rafael Matsunaga/Flickr

  • Asia Matters: RIMPAC and Chinese Spies

    · By Bill Dorman

    Thunder echoed far beyond the Pali this week, as Republican Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia slammed China for sending a spy ship as an uninvited guest to RIMPAC — the Rim of the Pacific military exercises taking place in and around the waters off Hawaii through the end of the month.

    Forbes, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection, told U.S. Naval Institute News that “it is clear that China is not ready to be a responsible partner and that their first trip to RIMPAC should probably be their last.”

    While Congressman Forbes’ comments managed to combine shock, horror and moral indignation, it’s telling that the reaction from the United States military was much more pragmatic.

    Referring to the presence of what’s called an “auxiliary general intelligence ship” or “AGI” from China, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor said: “We’re not surprised that it’s there.”

    Capt. Darryn James said the Chinese ship is “operating in waters in accordance with international law and we do the same.”

    This week, China’s state-owned Global Times issued a statement from the country’s Defense Ministry, saying “China respects the rights of all relevant coastal countries under the international law, and hopes that relevant countries also respect the rights Chinese ships are entitled to under the law.”

    There is an irony about China’s Defense Ministry citing “international law” in reference to coastal countries, since that is at the heart of a series of territorial disputes China has with a number of its neighbors in the East and South China Seas.

    Near Hawaii this week, the Chinese AGI is outside the territorial waters of the United States, which stretch to a distance

  • In the Shadows: How Serious Is the Military Sex Assault Problem in Hawaii?

    · By Adrienne LaFrance

    Civil Beat examined more than a decade of records from the Navy, Army, Marines, and Air Force.

  • Veterans Day Ceremony for Japanese-American Soldiers of World War II

    · By Manjari Fergusson

    A sunset ceremony on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor will honor the sacrifices of a unique group of military men.

  • Bow Ties, Spies and Money: A Look Inside Hawaii’s Intel Community

    · By Nick Grube

    Edward Snowden brought a lot of unwanted attention to the state’s intelligence community. So what’s going on here anyway?

  • Reporter’s Diary: How I Got Probed at the NSA

    · By Nick Grube

    A journalist followed Edward Snowden’s trail to the security agency’s headquarters in central Oahu, and learned some lessons.

  • Are Hawaii Kids Equipped for Careers in the Military?

    · By Alia Wong

    Experts say failing military entrance exam scores and inadequate physical fitness disqualify many local students.

  • Hawaii Could Establish a Veterans Court

    · By Sanjeev Ranabhat

    Bill would make veterans who commit crimes eligible for treatment instead of prison.

  • Hawaii in Afghanistan

    · By Mimi Wells

    Schofield soldiers carry a little piece of the islands with them.

  • Mission to Nari

    · By Mimi Wells

    Hawaii-based lieutenant’s trip to Afghan girls school reveals depth of divide between female officer and local women.

  • Young Hawaii Veterans Face Post-Iraq Joblessness

    · By Adrienne LaFrance

    For many new veterans the end of the Iraq war raises new questions about the future.

  • Hawaii to Iraq and Back, No Easy Road

    · By Adrienne LaFrance

    Military leaders say service members’ behavioral health needs remain a priority.

  • Hawaii Defense Cuts Loom After Super Committee Implodes

    · By Adrienne LaFrance

    With the most federal defense money per capita in the nation, Hawaii stands to lose.