Hundreds of military commanders, local officials and business leaders attended the 10th Annual Hawaii Military Partnership Conference Jan. 6 at the Hawaii Convention Center, here.
The annual event, orchestrated by the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, serves as a platform for private companies to present new technologies and initiatives to improve military operations in garrison and overseas, in addition to providing commanders an opportunity to present what the armed forces are doing to benefit the local community.
“They’re a subset of those industry folks that want to do business with the military, but that means an awful lot more,” said Brig. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific’s deputy commander. “This was our opportunity as senior military officers to stand up in front of these folks and explain where it is we’re going and what the military is doing out here, so they can get a better understanding in how to position themselves to best provide us with what we need.”
According to Broadmeadow, MarForPac currently has more than 11,000 Marines conducting operations in Afghanistan and several thousand more are deployed around the world participating in overseas contingency operations.
He stressed the strategic importance of a Marine Corps presence in the Pacific, such as Okinawa, Hawaii and Guam, in the command’s warfighting and regional security efforts, which could not function without the support of the local community.
“The goal was for the chamber of commerce members to walk away with a better understanding of the needs of the military in the Pacific at large, but also specifically here in Hawaii,” Broadmeadow said.
During the event, local companies demonstrated technological advances with potential military applications, such as new digital visual technology that is capable of capturing 1,000 images per second and is currently being tested in an operational environment.
“What I really liked about that demonstration was the partnering aspect it represented,” Broadmeadow explained. “I saw a civilian company doing civilian research that recognized, ‘We’ve got an application the military could potentially benefit from.’ So they started to get into military applications, and those military applications allowed them to branch off back into more civilian applications. It’s that kind of innovation that benefits the Marine Corps and the community.”
Following the deputy commander, Col. Robert D. Rice, Marine Corps Base Hawaii commander, reaffirmed MCBH’s commitment to giving back to the community through energy-conservation efforts.
“We plan to be energy self-sufficient by 2015 and gasoline-free by 2020,” Rice said. “We have completely phased out plastic bags from our exchanges, we no longer sell fluorescent bulbs and we are styrofoam free.”
In addition to energy conservation, Rice stressed the impact and interest MCBH has in the local community by hosting numerous youth groups on K-Bay, such as Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, and by opening Marine Corps Community Services events to the public.
During the event, representatives with the Military Affairs Council announced numerous ongoing projects aimed toward improving education for military children, family housing and military installations around the Pacific.
“Overall, this event went very well,” Broadmeadow said. “We didn’t treat this event as a one shot. The services went into it saying we are going to continue conversations [from past conferences and meetings], we were successful in demonstrating some of the good things we are doing here in Hawaii and articulate some of our needs and requirements.”