The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Army and Air Force will conduct a rapid deployment live-fire exercise at Palau International Airport on November 5 and 7 as part of a routine Joint Pacific Multi-National Readiness Center (JPMRC) rotation being hosted from Hawaii. JPMRC is a regional combat training center (CTC) training rotation that generates readiness for the participating forces.
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. DoD is partnering closely with the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB), Bureau of Public Safety, Bureau of Aviation, Palau National Aviation Administration, and Palau’s National Security Coordinator, and the government of Airai to ensure a safe and successful training event.
Live-fire exercises like this are one of the most valuable ways for the U.S. military to train to protect Palau. It provides an opportunity to integrate different forces to achieve precise effects while demonstrating speed, strength, versatility, and the ability to defend Palau. It also highlights the shared commitment from both Palau and U.S. to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Conducting training in different locations across the Pacific enables the U.S. military to enhance their interoperability with partners and brings the added benefit of an economic boost to the region. The U.S. has not fired HIMARS in Palau since Exercise Valiant Shield in June 2022, when close to 1,000 military personnel stayed in various hotels throughout Palau.
The next large-scale exercise planned for Palau is Pacific Partnership 24, which will bring the medical ship, USNS Mercy and hundreds of troops back to Palau to treat residents of Palau from 21 December 2023 through 6 January 2024.