Hawaii Rep. Kai Kahele, a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii National Guard, has been selected by the Democrats to serve on the House Armed Services Committee.
The committee oversees ongoing military operations, international security cooperation, weapons and technology acquistion and nuclear weapons programs under the Department of Energy. Kahele was previously named to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“The opportunity to set military and defense policy is an important responsibility,” Kahele said Tuesday in a press release. “Ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the training and resources they need is imperative to their safety and the safety of our nation.”
Rep. Kai Kahele is the second Native Hawaiian to serve in Congress since statehood and an officer in the Hawaii Air National Guard.
Kahele replaces Tulsi Gabbard in Congress, another serving military officer and Iraq War veteran who made her fierce criticism of U.S. military policies and “regime change wars” in the Middle East a central part of her congressional career and presidential bid, but was also accused of promoting support for authoritarian governments.
“Hawaii plays a critical role in supporting our defense and diplomatic objectives location in the Indo-Pacific, the Department of Defense’s priority theater and most consequential region for America’s future,” said Kahele. “The security of the American people must be our top priority. We also have a duty to prioritize care for our veterans and military families. I will work diligently so that all of our military members, active-duty, reserve, and National Guard receive the support they deserve.”
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Kevin Knodell covers the military and veterans in Hawaii and the greater Pacific for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms.