National Security Coordinator Jennifer Anson with US military personnel

The United States Department of Defense’s Army and Airforce will conduct live-fire exercises with the High Mobile Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) today and tomorrow at the Palau International Airport.

HIMAR lift off

According to a press release by the US Embassy in October, “the exercise will bring several large cargo planes to Palau carrying a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) — a rocket launch system able to engage precise targets. Multiple training rockets will be fired from the Palau International Airport during the two days of training, all landing 10 km off Airai’s east coast at specific grid coordinates. The rocket propellant will be expended prior to impact, and the missile body does not contain radiation or other harmful materials.”

In response to an inquiry about the nature of the rockets and the potential impact on the marine environment, information shared by the US Embassy said the rounds used in this training practice do not contain explosives, rather “just like a giant steel telephone pole” that will sink to the ocean floor.

The report said that the US Department of Defense is working closely with local agencies, including the Palau Environmental Quality Protection Board, to “ensure a safe and successful training event.”

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