KOROR, Palau -- A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules delivered U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers onto the newly renovated Angaur Airfield for training exercises in the Republic of Palau, Sept. 5.The successful arrival of the military cargo plane validates the airstrip’s use by military and commercial aircraft, a little more than a week after the project’s completion and ceremony August 27. In the weeks prior, a U.S. civil-military engineer joint task force reconstructed and expanded the runway as part of the Angaur Airfield Joint Improvement Project.The U.S. Ambassador to Palau, John Hennessy-Niland remarked that making a rudimentary airstrip capable of hosting cargo aircraft is a significant milestone in support of the people of Palau. “The completion of the Angaur Airfield Joint Improvement Project is a game changer,” said Hennessy-Niland. “Palau now has a secondary airstrip. This had been a long-standing request from the government of Palau and the State of Angaur.”Adding a second airfield allows the U.S., along with other allies and partners in the region increased opportunity to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance in times of crisis or address other regional security concerns.The USARPAC Soldiers are arriving as part of Defender Pacific 20, a theater-wide exercise that demonstrates strategic readiness by deploying combat credible forces in support of the Compact of Free Association agreement and the U.S. National Defense Strategy.“The deployment of forces onto a newly certified airstrip demonstrates our ability to rapidly project joint combat power across the Indo-Pacific Command and reinforce international rules-based order,” said Col. James Bartholomees, USARPAC Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. “This new runway demonstrates America's investment in our important alliances and partnerships and our overall commitment to the people of Palau.”U.S. Army Pacific worked closely with the U.S. Embassy, Government of Palau, and the Joint Region Marianas command in Guam to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 through 100% testing and quarantine measures. USARPAC would like to thank the Palau Ministry of Health for all their efforts and assistance with COVID-19 testing and clearance. All soldiers tested negative for the virus prior to their arrival to Angaur.