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New military command soon to form on Guam to centralize tasks in island region

Updated: Mar 27


Gregory Huffman

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan


(This article has been updated to include remarks from Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman in his presentation before the the Guam Chamber of Commerce this week.)


 The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command will soon establish a new military command on Guam that will form the nucleus of defense operations in the surrounding islands in the region.


The Department of Defense’s budget request for fiscal 2025 includes $40 million to fund the establishment of Joint Task Force Micronesia, a two-star level command that will integrate “posture plans, military construction projects, land use negotiations and other joint support activities.”


On March 1, the department announced the promotion of Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman as the commander of Joint Task Force-Micronesia.


Huffman is currently serving as the commander of Joint Region Marianas and Indo-Pacific Command's representative to Guam, the Northern Marianas, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.


“In the very near future, we will formally establish Joint Task Force Micronesia,"

Huffman announced during the two-day Joint Committee Meeting in Honolulu on March 20 and 21.


“It’s an additive change, which has not been done on Guam before," Huffman said during a presentation before the Guam Chamber of Commerce on March 27.


Huffman said the forthcoming task force will build upon the Joint Region Marianas, a one-star command, which will be headed by a yet-to-be-named one-star admiral who is anticipated to arrive on Guam soon.


Huffman said the JRM "will continue to be a vital part of everything that's going on in Guam" but will focus largely on installation support, which the command is designed to do.


“We are still working through a lot of the details on the command relationships and how those are going to be formed, but I am very excited for the future for a couple of reasons,” he added.

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The initiative to establish Joint Task Force Micronesia “reflects Guam’s importance as a command and control node for operations and activities across the Guam cluster—Guam, CNMI, Wake Island, Midway Island and the freely associated states,” reads an unclassified document released by Indo-Pacific Command in July last year.


“This is a very exciting time for Guam and for the region because it's now getting to the point where we are able to focus our forces and establish the right command and control structure to effectively manage the assets that we have here on Guam and then dedicate assets to the posture build-up and the construction build-up that we have as we grow here on Guam and throughout the region,” Huffman said.


Guam is considered critical to U.S. defense and power projection across the region, where the U.S. faces tight competition with China.


Several posture projects on Guam, the Northern Marianas, Palau, the FSM and the Marshall Islands require historic levels of military construction.


The relocation of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa entails $11 billion for military construction and family housing projects on Guam, plus another $1 billion for the proposed missile defense.


In the CNMI, Washington is investing $161.8 million to expand the Tinian airport "that will enhance turnaround times, maintenance support and provide an additional divert airfield for DoD aircraft in the region," according to the Indo-Pacific Command's document.


In the FSM, the U.S. Air Force is proposing a $400 million upgrade to Yap's commercial airport "to accommodate larger aircraft to land and take off in support of training operation and humanitarian mission," according to LCDR Katie Koenig, JRM's public affairs officer.


The DoD is also building an over-the-horizon radar in Palau.


Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., second from right, joined Brig. Gen. Neil R. Richardson, deputy director for Strategic Planning and Policy, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Rear Adm. Gregory C. Huffman, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command senior military official for Palau,and Ambassador Hersey Kyota at the biannual bilateral Joint Committee Meeting. Photo courtesy of the Office of the President of Palau


At the Joint Committee Meeting in Honolulu, Huffman said the forthcoming establishment of the Joint Task Force Micronesia "underlines our commitment to working alongside our Palauan partners to defend the homeland, deter aggression and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific."


"Our longstanding partnership with Palau is a testament to the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.


Officials said the Joint Committee Meeting, a requirement under the Compact of Free Association, tackled defense responsibilities, regional military training and environmental security.


“Palau is proud to be a key partner to the United States and on the shared goal of maintaining a peaceful, free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. said. “These meetings help build our relationship, which has been growing over the last few years.”


The meeting included Palau officials, and representatives from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.



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