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US to deploy air defense assets to Yap



Yap International Airport/Photo courtesy of YIA

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan


The U.S. military will beef up its presence in the Federated States of Micronesia with plans to deploy “air defense assets” to Yap in preparation for its growing role in America’s power projection in the region.


An overview of the ongoing U.S-funded projects in the FSM vis-à-vis the current regional security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region was among the primary areas of discussions between Micronesian and U.S. military officials during a bilateral Joint Committee Meeting held in Kosrae on Aug. 14 and 15.

“Discussions on the U.S. Air Force’s portfolio in the FSM were also held, which included substantive updates on the ongoing airport and seaport improvement projects in Yap and the successful program that has led to the provisioning of essential airfield and security support equipment,” according to a press release from the FSM government.


“A variety of progressive activities were also referenced in the meeting describing ongoing activities of the U.S. Army in the FSM which, among others, included the deployment of air defense assets for the Yap airport," the FSM government said.


Details regarding the air defense assets for deployment are not currently available.


FSM Vice President Aren Palik addresses FSM and U.S. military officials during the Joint Committee Meeting held in Kosrae on Aug 14-15. Photo courtesy of the FSM Information Service via Facebook

One of the major U.S.-sponsored projects in the FSM is the $37 million Yap airport rehabilitation funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.


In January, then-President David Panuelo disclosed that Yap would host frequent U.S. military exercises in the next several years, entailing the deployment of U.S. fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles that will be fired from the ground.


The U.S. has been boosting its investments in the region and getting strategic locations combat-ready amid its raging competition with China. The military is prepping up multiple locations for smooth shifting operations depending on where the threat is directed.

“The FSM is an important partner for the United States as we work to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman said during the first day of the meeting.


Huffman is the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s senior military official for the FSM and commander of the Joint Region Marianas.


Vice President Aren B. Palik led the FSM team at the Joint Committee Meeting, which is required under the Compact of Free Association to maintain the security and defense relations between the U.S. and the FSM.


“These meetings are crucial to our commitment to the defense of the Micronesian region,” Huffman said.

According to a press release from JRM, this year’s agenda tackled four areas: defense responsibilities, support for law enforcement, increasing maritime security for sovereign borders, and preparing for and responding to hazards unique to Pacific island communities.


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In a separate press release, FSM officials said the meeting also highlighted discussions on the Pacific Fleet’s maritime posture and confirmed the Pacific nation’s participation in the Pacific Partnership 2024 which will be held in January in Chuuk and Pohnpei.


At the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources' July 13 hearing,

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Siddharth Mohandas announced that the Pacific Partnership 2024 will bring the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship, along with more than 600 military and civilian personnel, to the FSM.


Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces from the Pacific Fleet of the U.S. Navy for the largest annual humanitarian and disaster relief-preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific.


"The meeting concluded with cooperative discussions on the ways forward for a prompt constitution of the FSM-U.S. Defense Site Working Group with emphasis on the critical need for consultations to be undertaken with all stakeholders at the state, municipal and community levels as well as a brief presentation of the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance," the FSM government said.



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