By Rear Adm. Rick Williams, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
The theme of this week’s commentary is the power of cooperative partnerships in improving our community – and why that is so important to our mission.
As beautiful as Hawaii is, you may have noticed some of our aging buildings and other facilities are in poor condition and in desperate need of repair. Frankly, some areas had become eyesores with overgrown weeds, broken foundations and roofs, cracks in infrastructure and many broken windows.
Some of these buildings are considered historical landmarks, and we are restricted from removing and replacing them. But we must not allow regulatory requirements, facility budget cuts, sequestration, the continuing resolution, and increased operational demands to become excuses to do nothing.
We must not allow circumstances to put us in a state of paralysis – as perceived “victims.” The antidote to victimhood is responsibility and action.
By taking responsibility, embracing innovation and developing cooperative partnerships, we are finding ways to begin rejuvenating isolated areas including at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, on Ford Island, in Wahiawa and in Fort Kamehameha housing.
So here is what we are doing.
At various locations, we are taking corrective steps in buildings where the infrastructure remains salvageable and the problems are manageable. We are making progress by changing our approach and methodology to fix our buildings before the entire neighborhood suffers.
First we are taking our leading eyesores and breathing new life into them by reinventing them. We are giving those buildings and facilities important missions that bring people and resources to them, while keeping an eye on our historic origins. Here are some examples:
- At the shipyard, we are repairing piers, docks and buildings to better accommodate the fleet, recognizing we are the gateway to the rebalance to Asia-Pacific.
- At Ford Island, we are investing in “warfighting first” with building conversions that will support a MIDPAC-SUBPAC multi-warfare training center and fleet interactive display equipment.
- At joint base, we are investigating the possibility of refurbishing the Fort Kamehameha housing area to a beautiful recreation area for service members, families and veterans for years to come. We want to convert the homes to a Navy Gateway Inns & Suites lodge.
- At Wahiawa, we will fix the buildings, facilities and amenities that have a direct impact on quality of life for our fleet, fighters and families. That includes swimming pools, dining services and other quality-of-life support.
Among our strategies are developing partnerships in operations, planning and implementation of unique cost-sharing initiatives, where possible. Those efforts with multiple stakeholders are starting to see an impact with more positive results expected in 2015 and beyond.
Navy Region has teamed up with United States Pacific Command; Pacific Air Forces; Commander, Navy Installations Command; Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam; Pacific Historic Parks; and the Military Affairs Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, among others.
It’s amazing what can be achieved when a group of like-minded people get together and get creative.
They find a way. And, once people see a positive change, others are energized to be part of their winning team. Momentum builds. The community gets stronger.
As joint base commander, Capt. Stan Keeve, said, “Yes, it’s a challenging environment to operate in, but with vision and strong leadership we can effect change. We are already seeing movement in the correct direction — forward.”
That brings us to our mission, one which Vice Adm. Dixon Smith, commander, Navy Installations Command, calls “a vital and timeless mission — a mission the entire Navy is counting upon us to accomplish: to serve as the shore integrator to sustain the fleet, enable the fighter, and support the family.”
Our positive, can-do cooperative partnerships help us take customer service to the next level, execute policy, make smart business decisions, continuously improve, and represent the Navy to the surrounding community, all of which are part of CNIC’s guiding principles.