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Esper: US military presence in Palau more important now than ever


Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets with Palau's President Thomas Remengesau, left, on Aug. 27, 2020, in Koror, Palau for a U.S. defense secretary's first-ever visit to the country. Photo by Meghann Myers/Military Times

Koror — U.S troops have been rotating in and out of a small Southeast Asian island nation for more than 40 years, and on Friday they got their inaugural visit by a Pentagon boss.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper toured a civil affairs compound and met with top government officials as part of the first-ever visit by a U.S. secretary of Defense , though the relationship between Palau and the military dates back decades.

“There are so many Palauans who serve in the American armed forces, at a much higher rate than any state in the United States,” Esper said.

Today was a sobering reminder of the cost of great power conflict in human lives—72,000 Americans remain unaccounted for from #WorldWarII.

A country of more than 300 island and roughly 20,000 residents, about 500 of its citizens serve in the U.S. military, more than twice the rate of American citizens, which is currently about 1 percent.

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