HONOLULU — U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command has proposed tripling the number of training events allowed on non-federal lands in Hawaii for Navy SEALs and other special operations forces.
The Navy published a draft environmental assessment last week on the plan to expand training activities from Oahu and the Big Island to include sites on Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
The review does not anticipate a significant environmental impact from the expanded training activities that are scheduled to begin in 2019.
"Naval special operations personnel must be ready for a variety of military operations — from large-scale conflict to maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief — to respond to the dynamic, social, political, economic and environmental issues that may arise," Navy officials said in the report.
The training activities fit into three categories based on land, air and water, according to the report. They will occasionally integrate personnel from the Army, the Marine Corps and Air Force.
Water-based training consists of swimming and diving, using submersible small vehicles, and inserting and extracting personnel using watercraft.
Land-based training includes personnel beach crossings, clearing buildings with simulated munitions, climbing, and reconnaissance activities.
Air-based training includes the use of aircraft for drop zones, parachute landings, or suspension trainings.
The assessment outlines two options as well as a no-action alternative. Under the preferred option, no more than 10 events would be allowed per year on each non-federal training site. The number of events would not exceed 330 across all non-federal land sites. Up to 265 training events would be allowed on federal property per year.
The second option allows up to six events on each non-federal property training site and a maximum of 198 events.
Currently, 110 special operations training events are held on non-federal lands on Oahu and the Big Island. Federal property would have up to 52 events per year.
The public comment period for the assessment ends next month.