Although saying that the U.S. doesn’t plan to establish a permanent base in the Federated States of Micronesia, Rear Admiral Benjamin Nicholson, the commander of Joint Region Marianas, did confirm that the military plans to increase its presence and activities in the FSM.
“I think there is a little confusion. There’s not a permanent base that is going there, at least not one that is planned right now. But we are looking at where we can best operate in the Federated States of Micronesia, where we might be able to put forces temporarily either for an exercise or an operation, but not be permanently stationed there. We’re looking at a number of places in the region as well … where the best place is to position forces, maybe not permanently but temporarily for an exercise or if we want to go through an operation where we want to distribute our forces throughout the region, where are the best places to do that from,” Nicholson said in an interview with NewsTalk K57’s Patti Arroyo.
Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the governor’s chief adviser for military and regional affairs, told K57 that the FSM welcomes the U.S. military’s initiative to increase its presence in the region.
“The FSM has sent out a signal that this would be something that they would welcome if they could get a military base there, to increase the military presence in the islands. I think that’s the signal that they are sending out … trying to use this time that they’re in Compact renegotiations. The financial provisions of the Compact are up in 2023. So I think this is the perfect time for them to indicate big things that they would like to see. And having a solid military base, I think that was a new development that they would welcome,” Leon Guerrero said.
Leon Guerrero also pointed out the unique position that the U.S. has with the islands of the Pacific and that this is the best time to make a move as the only time that renegotiations can be made with regard to the financial aspects of the Compact is every 20 years.
“The renegotiations of the Compact …, the financial Compact … is something that only happens every 20 years. The last time it was 2003. So if you’re going to make a move, you’re going to make a move at a time when the State Department, Interior, and Congress are all looking at how to continue its relationship with Micronesia … the unique and very special relationship that the United States has with the island governments around here. The fact that they are democracies is very important and to stabilize these democracies, in this part of the Pacific, when we have China getting adventurous and North Korea getting adventurous … I think the United States believes it’s important to stabilize these democracies,” Leon Guerrero said.