An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Stories
Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

U.S. Joint Forces Strengthen Capabilities and Partnerships in Palau During Valiant Shield 24

21 June 2024 KOROR, Palau – Joint forces with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, allies and partners concluded the tenth iteration of exercise Valiant Shield, June 18, 2024, following 12 days of multilateral operations in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, and at sea around the Mariana Island Range Complex.

Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, led a joint contingent of more than 600 service members in Palau including elements of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the U.S. Army’s 3rd Multi-Domain Task Force, the U.S. Air Force 27th Fighter Squadron, and the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Construction Team TWO, 30th Naval Construction Regiment.

Palau was a key partner in the success of Valiant Shield 24. The U.S. and Palau share a strong and enduring relationship through the Compact of Free Association (COFA) agreement. CLR-17 and joint forces coordinated closely with the U.S. Embassy and local authorities, including the Bureau of Public Safety and the Palau Aviation Administration, to ensure compliance with local laws, support increased aviation traffic at Palau International Airport, and organize training activities throughout the country.

“We take our partnership with Palau and our obligation as their military very seriously,” said Col. Matthew Mulvey, commanding officer of CLR-17. “We want the populace to recognize that we’re here among you, ultimately, to serve you.”

Mission Accomplished

Valiant Shield is a biennial, multinational field exercise focused on enhancing interoperability across multiple domains. This iteration featured a sink exercise (SINKEX) involving the decommissioned Austin-class amphibious transport dock, ex-USS Cleveland (LPD-7), in the North Pacific Ocean, as well as a joint mass casualty exercise.

CLR-17 served as the 1st MLG forward command, providing command and control of essential functions and serving as a communications integrator and senior airfield and port authority. CLB-13 provided the logistical backbone to operations, serving as the Base Operating Support-Integrator. As BOS-I, CLB-13 ensured unity of effort among the services by coordinating logistical assets, services and support needed for Valiant Shield 24.

“We offer a connective tissue between units here, starting by receiving them at the port or the airfield,” said Lt. Col. Brian McCarthy, commanding officer of CLB-13.

Medical personnel with CLB-13 also established the first Role 2 medical field hospital in Palau. The Role 2 provided advanced medical coverage for the exercise force and swiftly triaged and treated simulated casualties during the mass casualty exercise.

To manage the increase of military aircraft landing at Palau International Airport, a Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team with Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd MAW, provided air traffic control services to both military and civilian aircraft. Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, MACG-38, 3rd MAW, managed airfield operations and provided expeditionary refueling to joint aircraft including C-130J Super Hercules with the 40th Airlift Squadron and F-22 Raptors with the 27th Fighter Squadron.

“Aviation ground support is a critical capability that is going to generate and sustain sorties for joint forces operating in the Indo-Pacific,” said Maj. Thomas O’Brien, operations officer of MWSS-373. “This was displayed in our efforts here in Palau during Valiant Shield.”

UCT-2 managed port operations and led a major diving and construction project at Malakal Port, Koror, to repair damage from ship impacts. The multi-step repairs included placing underwater concrete to repair a large void, restoring the structural integrity of the port.

On June 16, the 3rd MDTF, along with a combined U.S. Army team, showcased their advanced warfighting capabilities by successfully firing Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM) from an Autonomous Multi-domain Launcher (AML) at Palau International Airport in support of the SINKEX.

The AML is an unmanned rocket launcher based on the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, designed to engage precise ground and surface targets.

“The partnership between 3rd MDTF and the AML team represents a significant modernization milestone,” said Capt. John Kenny, 3rd MDTF officer-in-charge. “Integrating emerging technologies into palpable deterrence on the edge is exactly how MDTFs bring value to the joint force.”

To support environmental and marine species protections during the SINKEX, the vessel was thoroughly cleaned before being positioned 50 nautical miles from the coast of Palau. It was sunk in over 6,000 feet of water, away from reefs, with a 2.5 nautical mile mitigation zone monitored by lookouts on aircraft and another vessel to pause the exercise if marine life entered the area.

Partnership Strengthened

Exercise Valiant Shield 24 offered service members opportunities to engage with their Palauan partners, fostering cultural exchange and mutual understanding. Lt. Cmdr. Cole Yoos, CLR-17 chaplain, coordinated a day of activities with Koror Elementary School children on the final day of their school year. Service members joined the children in soccer games, volleyball, push-up contests, and a "say no to drugs" skit aimed at drug education and preventing substance abuse.

During their off-duty hours, service members immersed themselves in the local culture by dining at Palauan restaurants, sampling traditional foods and learning about the customs and traditions of the island. Many service members attended Sunday worship services at local churches alongside their Palauan hosts.

On the final day of the exercise, Mulvey, McCarthy, and other leaders met with Chief Reklai Raphael Ngirmang, Palau’s paramount high chief, to express gratitude for Palau’s support and hospitality during the exercise. Palau’s traditional chiefs have advisory authority at the national level through the Council of Chiefs. Ngirmang is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with two tours in Vietnam and a tenure as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, retiring as a first sergeant.

As the meeting concluded, Ngirmang expressed his desire to return to the U.S. with the Marines.

"Trust me, we’re taking you with us. Right here, we’re taking you with us," Mulvey responded, pointing to his heart.

Though exercise Valiant Shield 24 has concluded, CLB-13 will remain in Palau and the Pacific Island region for several months to conduct Koa Moana 24, an exercise designed to strengthen relationships between the U.S. and partner nations in Oceania.

Ngirmang requested a future meeting with McCarthy, who will lead exercise Koa Moana 24 efforts, including the Peleliu Civic Center enhancement, just in time for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Peleliu in September 2024.

“Our partnership with Palau is invaluable,” Mulvey said. “Conducting exercise Valiant Shield in Palau not only enhances military readiness but also strengthens the bonds of friendship and collaboration between the two nations.”