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Hawaii’s strategic location in the Pacific Ocean has made it an important base for military operations for decades. If you’re wondering where exactly the army base is on these tropical islands, read on.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The main army base in Hawaii is Schofield Barracks, located on the island of Oahu about 17 miles north of Honolulu. Other major bases include Fort Shafter, Tripler Army Medical Center, and Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii Island.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history, locations, and features of army bases across Hawaii’s eight major islands.

A Brief History of Military Presence in Hawaii

Strategic mid-Pacific location key for operations

Hawaii’s strategic location in the central Pacific has made it a key site for US military operations for over a century. Stationed at the crossroads between Asia and the Americas, Hawaii provides the ability to deploy forces quickly across the vast Pacific Ocean.

Its critical value was already recognized back in 1887, when the US established a naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu.

Oahu designated as headquarters for US Army Pacific

With the annexation of Hawaii as a US territory in 1898, the military presence steadily grew. The first permanent Army post was established at Schofield Barracks in 1908. Over the next decades, more installations sprouted up, transforming Oahu into a bastion bristling with Army facilities.

This expansion reached its peak during World War II, when Oahu served as the headquarters for the Army’s Pacific operations. It was also the site of the infamous December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese that brought the US into the war.

Today home to many critical commands and training centers

Presently, Oahu remains densely populated with major Army commands and training centers, including:

  • US Army Pacific headquarters at Fort Shafter
  • US Army Hawaii headquarters at Schofield Barracks
  • The 25th Infantry Division’s air assault combat teams
  • Mission command training at Fort Shafter’s Tropic Lightning Academy
  • Jungle training at the 25th Infantry’s Lightning Academy

In addition to the Army presence, Oahu hosts the headquarters for US Pacific Command, which oversees all military operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Truly, the island continues to be the nerve center for US strategic initiatives across the Pacific.

The Main Army Base – Schofield Barracks on Oahu

Sprawling installation 17 miles from Honolulu

Schofield Barracks is a large U.S. Army installation located just 17 miles northwest of downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Spread across over 17,000 acres of land at the base of the Waianae and Koolau mountain ranges, Schofield Barracks hosts several major army units and serves as a key training center in the Pacific.

Home to 25th Infantry Division

Schofield Barracks serves as headquarters for the renowned 25th Infantry Division, known as the “Tropic Lightning Division”, which has seen action around the world from Guadalcanal to Iraq. Around 16,000 soldiers are stationed at Schofield Barracks with the 25th Infantry Division and other units like medical and network support groups.

Numerous training areas and ranges

With its prime location and huge expanse of land, Schofield Barracks contains many key training facilities for combat readiness. This includes the Tropic Lightning Academy for combat training tactics as well as dozens of shooting ranges, obstacle courses, and simulated battle zones.

There is also a West Oahu Training Center with classrooms and mock city blocks for urban operation exercises.

Barracks, housing, schools, recreational facilities

In addition to operations facilities, Schofield Barracks has extensive infrastructure to house and support all the soldiers and families stationed there. There are 1,447 buildings including barracks for unmarried service members, family housing units, seven schools from elementary through high school, multiple sport fields and courts, swimming pools, theaters, a community center, banks, restaurants, a post office, and more.

Other Notable Bases Across the Islands

Fort Shafter – Headquarters for USARPAC

Fort Shafter is located near Honolulu and serves as the headquarters for USARPAC (U.S. Army Pacific Command), responsible for overseeing all army operations in the Pacific area. It is home to a number of USARPAC critical command groups such as the 8th Theater Sustainment Command and 311th Signal Command.

Established in 1907, Fort Shafter plays a vital role in both military and ceremonial functions, with around 900 military personnel stationed there (source:

Tripler Army Medical Center – Pacific region’s largest military hospital

Tripler Army Medical Center near Honolulu is the largest military hospital in the Pacific region, providing comprehensive care with 52 specialties and subspecialties. With 264 inpatient beds, Tripler serves over 65,000 active-duty military personnel, including many wounded soldiers evacuated from the Pacific theater.

It is also a learning hospital, partnering with the Uniformed Services University for residency and internship training programs. Tripler has managed many medical crises including treating victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pohakuloa Training Area – 133k acres for live fire exercises

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) is an expansive installation used for range complex live fire training and testing of various weapon systems. The area was the U.S.’s largest downrange troposcatter communications complex during the Cold War.

Today, its 133,000 acres are used by the 25th Infantry Division, Marine Corps, State Guard, and other Pacific partners to conduct essential combat operation exercises. Environmental groups have raised concerns about ancient Hawaiian historical sites being disturbed in the area.

Smaller installations like Monmouth, Kamaka Airfield, etc.

In addition to the major bases, U.S. army presence can be found at smaller installations across Hawaii. For example, Monmouth Barracks near Honolulu is home to the Army Pacific Band. Kamaka Airfield on the Big Island provides aviation support. Kahuku Training Area supports jungle warfare training.

Makua Military Reservation on Oahu was used for munitions storage (but has faced opposition over unexploded ordnance issues). Other minor army outposts support diverse missions – from basic housing to communications infrastructure (source).

Looking at the Role Bases Play in Local Communities

Economic impact of military spending

The military presence in Hawaii generates over $8 billion for the local economy annually, according to research from the University of Hawaii. This includes factors like salaries for service members, jobs for civilians, and local contracts for construction, maintenance, and supplies.

The wages of active duty personnel stationed in Hawaii alone total $3.2 billion each year.

Tight relationships between armed forces and Hawaiians

There are tight social and cultural bonds between the military community and local Hawaiian residents. Over 16% of Hawaii’s adult population are veterans, higher than any other state, and many civilians work on bases.

Intermarriage is also common – a 2015 survey found 22% of military members had a spouse from Hawaii. Locals broadly recognize the economic and social benefits.

Efforts to preserve local lands while allowing training

The military tries to be a conscientious steward of the islands. Forces limit damage through things like establishing buffer zones around housing and managing vehicle access. New agreements also require cultural site surveys before exercizes.

Still, more preservation work remains to be done according to conservation groups.

Military crucial for disaster response

Personnel Deployed Equipment Provided Key Missions
Over 1,100 5 Ships Transport, Medical Aid
Hawaii depends on the nearby military for humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Following events like hurricanes, flooding, and volcanic eruptions, the armed forces supply transport vehicles, mobile hospitals, supplies, and vital infrastructure support.


For over a century, Hawaii’s strategic position has made it crucial for Army facilities. While Oahu’s Schofield Barracks is the headquarters, each island hosts critical bases, training centers, and commands.

As America’s interests expand into Asia and the Pacific, Hawaii will continue enabling power projection from its shores. Yet the military also recognizes its duty to preserve these islands’ precious natural and cultural resources.

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