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NEWS | May 17, 2024

DoD Representatives Meet with Residents of Palau; Discuss Proposed Designation of Defense Site in Peleliu

By Shaina Marie ONeal Joint Region Marianas

A team of engineers and representatives of the Department of Defense (DoD) met with government leaders and residents of the Republic of Palau to discuss the proposed designation of a new defense site in Peleliu, May 13 and 15.

About 200 residents attended the public engagements held at the Peleliu state office and in the Senate Building in Koror.

Judy Sanchez, deputy political-military advisor, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) Senior Military Official to Palau, and Harry Elliott, counsel for the INDOPACOM Senior Military Official to Palau, led the community engagements. Engineers from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps shared details about the proposed defense site, which include repairs and expansion to the Peleliu Airstrip and Peleliu’s South Dock.

“We have a strong partnership with the Palauan government and people. When the Government of Palau sought to improve the infrastructure in Peleliu, we looked together to the designation of this new defense site to strengthen the U.S.’s ability to secure and defend Palau and meet this request,” said Elliott.

“We are one Pacific family, and the intent of these sites is to promote the quality of life for the people in Palau, and to enhance our capabilities throughout the region to include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, and power projection. Open and honest communication will remain a key element as we work with the government and people of Palau to reach our mutual goals and we are committed to involving the Palauan people every step of the way,” Elliott said.

Peleliu State Gov. Emais Roberts, Palau Minister of Public Infrastructure and Industries Charles Obichang, Palau National Security Coordinator Jennifer Anson, Peleliu State Delegate Nace Soalablai, and Speaker of the Peleliu State Legislature Billy Rekemel also attended.

Roberts remarked that the meetings were a positive step toward the designation of the new defense site and thanked the team for taking the time to include the community in the conversation.

“It’s all about partnership,” Roberts said. “The Republic of Palau and State of Peleliu asked the U.S. government, asked the Department of Defense to help fix the airfield for our benefit, and also for the benefit of the military if they had the use for it.”

“I told the people of Peleliu that anything that’s happening needs to come in front of the public, everyone needs to know about it, we’ll have a consensus of where to go, and then we’ll proceed,” Roberts continued. “The last two meetings, one in Peleliu, the one in Koror, so far everybody is on board. They want this project to move as fast as possible. The benefit is so great for the people of Peleliu.”

The team hosted an additional meeting to address specific questions from landowners in Peleliu.

Rear Adm. Greg Huffman, INDOPACOM Senior Military Official to Palau shared his gratitude to the Palauan government and residents who participated in the meetings.

“We are thankful to the Government and people of Palau for their partnership and their continued support of our U.S. Armed Forces in the region. We are committed to being good partners as we work together to defend the homeland, deter aggression, and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Huffman said.

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