Palau Correspondent

Marine Corps Sgt. Jackie Tran, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Task Force Koa Moana 2020, I (pronounced “first”) Marine Expeditionary Force, is tested for COVID-19 by an employee of the Palau Ministry of Health in Peleliu on Aug. 5, 2020.
Photo by Cpl. Anabel Abreu Rodriguez/Department of Defense

KOROR, Palau — The U.S. military is deploying hundreds of personnel to Palau during the course of the summer, starting in July, but the advance team declined to detail the mission until after the planning process has been completed.

First Lt. Duane Kampa of Koa Moana 21 said the mission is “comprised of U.S. Marines and sailors from I (pronounced “first”) Marine Expeditionary Force … partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard … deploying to the Indo-Pacific to conduct theater security cooperation activities in the Republic of Palau in 2021.” Some 400 personnel are expected in Palau.

The I Expeditionary Force is comprised primarily of the 1st Marine Division, the3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and the 1st Marine Logistics Group.

Kampa said Koa Moana is “organized into multiple detachments with expertise in providing engineering, medical, maritime law enforcement, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal capabilities.”

The goal of the annual deployment is to “reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the Compact of Free Association and to enhance interoperability when responding to “potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) operations,” Kampa said.

Members of Task Force Koa Moana 21 will be fully vaccinated, initially be under restriction of movement and receive COVID tests prior to arrival in Palau.

Last year, Koa Moana missions were also deployed in Palau to conduct small scale training and humanitarian missions, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

Palau has always welcomed the military for exercises and as additional resources and hopes to welcome personnel to the nation as tourists as well. Both U.S. Air Force personnel and U.S. Marines were also in Palau last year, the latter through Task Force Koa Moana.

From July 4, travelers coming into Palau will need to present documentation showing full vaccination and an approved vaccine brand to avoid quarantine. Information can be found at mbj