The United States and Palau are bolstering their longstanding partnership through Exercise Valiant Shield, a large-scale military training event currently underway across the Indo-Pacific region.

“This exercise is a routine training event that upholds our commitment to regional security and Palau’s defence under the Compact of Free Association,” said Colonel Matthew Mulvey of Combat Logistics Regiment 17, who is leading the logistics effort in Palau.

Military officials acknowledged some local concerns about the exercise but emphasized its routine nature and commitment to transparency.

Colonel Mulvey underscored that the increased military presence signifies a strengthened partnership, not a cause for alarm.

“I think it’s a positive thing, that we’re more visible to the populace now,” Colonel Mulvey said.

“Because we are your military, it’s not something that we should hide or veil. That’s not what we want… We want the populace to recognise that we’re here among you, and we’re here to serve you.”

The U.S military is actively fostering cultural exchange during the exercise. Chaplain Cole Yoos is facilitating visits to local schools and houses of worship, encouraging service members to participate in local religious services. Additionally, Lieutenant Colonel Brian McCarthy of Combat Logistics Battalion 13 highlighted plans for continued community projects throughout the summer.

Environmental safety is a top priority for the exercise. Captain John Kenny of the 3rd Multi-Domain Task Force assured that all training activities strictly adhere to environmental standards.

“The target itself is a decommissioned Navy vessel that’s been cleaned to remove all pollutants and PCBs,” said Captain Kenny. “It will be sunk at a depth of over 6,000 feet to create an artificial reef, located more than 50 nautical miles from the coast. There’s little to no risk of any damage to the reef.”

U.S Navy Seabees are conducting repairs to Malakal Port, enhancing its capacity for future operations. The repairs, which began in 2023, are expected to allow for increased utilisation of the port upon completion.

Valiant Shield is a multinational exercise, demonstrating regional security collaboration. Forces from the U.S, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, and France are participating alongside Palau.

The biennial exercise involves over 20,000 personnel and 200 aircraft, with nearly 600 service members training in Palau.