24 Jan 2023

FSM president gives assurance as more military activity expected

1:14 pm on 24 January 2023
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on 21 August 2015 in the Gulf, as part of the US-led coalition's operations in Iraq and Syria.

Photo: AFP

Residents of the Federated States of Micronesia have been told not to be alarmed by increased flyovers from US jets and anti-aircraft missile firing in the coming years.

This comes as the United States step up its military presence to counter China's expansion in the region.

President David Panuelo said in his State of the Nation address that given the geopolitical atmosphere in the Pacific, there is increased attention from the US Armed Forces.

"These exercises will be increasing in frequency over the next several years and while they are ultimately in our national interest and in the interest of nation's security - of which the US is our indisputable guardian - it is important that our citizens know about them well in advance so that our people do not see these activities and immediately fear the worst."

In March last year, Panuelo announced that Yap would play a role in the US military repositioning in the region.

While there were no plans for permanent base in Yap at that time, the US Department of Defence (DOD) intended to use the state's airport and seaport facilities for military operations when needed.

"With the approval of and in consultation with the leadership of Yap, the FSM will work with DOD to allow the US to improve the airport and seaport facilities," Panuelo said during a meeting with state leaders in Yap.

One of the US-bankrolled projects in Yap is the international airport runway rehabilitation. The Federal Aviation Administration has invested $US37 million in the project that consists of removal and resurfacing of the airport's runway pavement, taxiway, and removal of an earth mound that is obstructing the view between the runway and taxiway.

"(The project) must be mutually beneficial, not just for the US in terms of military repositioning," Panuelo said.

"We will make sure that the airport and seaport facilities are used for the purpose of international shipping," Panuelo had announced.

Also expected in the coming years is the expansion of the port in State of Yap and increased presence from the US Navy.