Pacific News Minute: Major US military exercise underway around several Pacific islands
As China attempts to expand its diplomatic and military profile in the Indo-Pacific region, a major U.S. military exercise is taking place this week in and around several Pacific islands.
Valiant Shield 2022 is a training event that takes place every other year. It involves every branch of the American armed forces.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet says two aircraft carriers, 15 surface ships, more than 200 aircraft and an estimated 13,000 troops are involved.
The exercise, which began last Monday, is taking place on Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau and at sea around the Mariana Island Range Complex.
The military is holding its first-ever testing of the Patriot missile defense system in Palau, Guam’s Micronesian neighbor.
The Guam Daily Post reports residents are being assured that there will be no negative environmental impacts from live fire being used in the waters of Micronesia.
Palau is known globally for taking the lead on environmental policies, including banning commercial fishing in about 80% of its sovereign waters. It also requires visitors to sign a pledge to act in an ecologically and culturally responsible manner.
That was something U.S. military officials were aware of when negotiating the use of Palauan land and water. The negotiations even went all the way up to the nation’s president.
Officials say debris remaining from the exercises is to be recovered. But much of the material is left behind because it isn’t feasible to find it or bring it back ashore.
Valiant Shield continues through June 17.