Strengthening pacific ties: US, Micronesia renew key defense pact

In a significant affirmation of the enduring partnership between the United States and the Pacific Island nations, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Micronesian President Wesley Simina to celebrate the recent renewal of the Compacts of Free Association (COFA). This pivotal agreement, which also includes the Marshall Islands and Palau, underscores the strategic defense and economic alliances in the Indo-Pacific region.

Austin, welcoming President Simina to the Pentagon, highlighted the renewal of the COFA as a “landmark achievement” that reinforces the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. The agreement, first established in the mid-1980s and expanded over the years, allows the U.S. to maintain a crucial military presence across the Freely Associated States, covering an area exceeding the size of the continental United States.

This military presence is not only strategic for American defense interests but also symbolizes a deep commitment to the security and prosperity of the Pacific Island nations. Under the renewed compact, the U.S. pledges continued defense and economic support into the 2040s, ensuring stability and mutual cooperation in a region that has become increasingly significant on the global stage.

The COFA agreements also facilitate the enlistment of citizens from the Freely Associated States into the U.S. military, a point of pride for both nations. Austin expressed gratitude for the military service of Micronesians, reflecting the close ties that extend beyond formal agreements to the shared values of democracy, peace, unity, and freedom.

President Simina echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the deep-rooted friendship based on common principles and the commitment of both nations to stand together in pursuit of these ideals. The discussions between Austin and Simina also explored new avenues for defense cooperation and the enhancement of military exercises, marking a new chapter in the partnership between the U.S. and the Pacific Island nations.

This meeting comes as part of Austin’s broader efforts to strengthen ties across the Pacific, having previously met with leaders from Palau and the Marshall Islands. As these nations look forward to decades of continued partnership, the renewal of the COFA stands as a testament to their shared commitment to securing a prosperous future for the Indo-Pacific region.–Web Desk