Updated: Jun 10
Patriot fire-drill in Palau highlights this year's training
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Approximately 13,000 personnel from the U.S. Indo-Pacific command joint forces are participating in the Valiant Shield 2022 exercise in Guam, the Northern Marianas, Palau and at sea around the Mariana Island Range Complex.
The field exercise began Monday and will continue through June 17 amid North Korea’s reported preparation for its seventh nuclear weapons test.
However, Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick II, director of the Joint Exercise Control Group, said the Valiant Shield is not designed to play any attack scenario.
“The main purpose is to improve the integrated mission between our joint forces in a wide variety of mission sets,” Chadwick said at a press conference held Thursday at the Joint Region Marianas headquarters in Asan.
Valiant Shield involves the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard the Space Force.
Chadwick said the Valiant Shield seeks to demonstrate “the ability that we can operate anywhere.”
While most training exercises are conducted with U.S. allies, Chadwick said the Valiant Shield is focused on the United States’ own military services and improving their ability to operate “in an integrated fashion.”
One of the highlights of this year’s exercise is the test-fire of the Patriot air defense missile system at Palau airport on June 15.
The Patriot will be fired by Okinawa-based soldiers from 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Battalion.
Capt. Nicholas Chopp, a spokesman for the 94th Air and Missile Defense Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, earlier said in an interview with Stars and Stripes that the U.S. Army would send a pair of Patriot launchers as well as radar and command and control systems to Palau.
According to a press release from the Office of Palau President, the Valiant Shield exercise sent 1,000 servicemembers from joint forces to Koror.
Mark Cruz, environmental coordinator for the Joint Region Marianas, said military officials reassured Palau leaders that safety and control measures are in place to mitigate any impact on the environment.
“Safety is a huge factor,” Cruz said. “Once they took that into account and recognized the strategic importance to do this, they understood.”
Participants include USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Groups, USS Tripoli (LHA 7), 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), I and III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), 36th Wing, 15 surface ships, more than 200 aircraft.
Launched in 2006, Valiant Shield is a biennial field training exercise that builds real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking, and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land, and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.