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

The Department of Defence’s budget request for fiscal 2025 includes US$40 million to fund the creation of Joint Task Force Micronesia, which will integrate “posture plans, military construction projects, land use negotiations and other joint support activities.”

On 01 March, the department announced the promotion of Rear Admiral 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 20 – 21 March.

Huffman, however, did not elaborate on the plan. Details are not currently available. It was unclear if the task force would replace the Joint Region Marianas, which currently provides installation management support to all Department of Defence components on Guam and the Northern Marianas.

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.

Officials consider Guam critical to U.S defence 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 US$11 billion for military construction and family housing projects on Guam, plus another US$1 billion for the proposed missile defence.

In the CNMI, Washington is investing US$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 US$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.

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 defence 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.