The U.S. Army Civic Action Team 84-07 in the Republic of Palau is helping the local population by teaching valuable skills sets and with them, bringing greater opportunity. Palau consists of a remote group of small islands in Micronesia. While the islands are unmistakably beautiful, isolation and distance from the rest of the world often leaves its population with few options for economic mobility.
The CAT consists of Army, Navy and Air Force engineers who perform six-month rotational deployments to Palau to support the local community with engineering projects. Originally a strictly Navy effort, CATs have been present in Palau since 1970.
The CAT supports Palau through six key tasks: community construction projects, medical civic actions, community relations, WWII monument maintenance, emergency response, disaster relief and senior military official support.
The last and final task the CAT supports is an apprenticeship program. The program supports the local populace by bringing on local Palauans to spend 6-12 months with the team learning various engineering trades such as electrical engineering, vehicle mechanics, heavy equipment construction, masonry and carpentry.
“This is a uniquely rewarding mission,” said Sgt.1st Class George Marshall, the CAT assistant officer-in-charge and manager of the apprenticeship program. “We have the opportunity to work hand-in- hand with the local population and give them the tools and skills to be more productive members of the local community. Participants who earn a certificate from our program often earn around $12-an-hour, roughly four times Palau’s minimum wage.”
“Here in Palau, the minimum wage is $3.50 per hour,” said Emerson Imetengel, an electrician apprentice and local Palauan community member. “Low wages and lack of opportunities have caused many Palauans to leave this country for a better life. I was born and raised in Palau and I have no plans to leave. This program has given me the ability to stay in Palau and make a livable wage.”
“What I appreciate most about participating in this mission is the notion of legacy,” said 1st Lieutenant Avery Austin, the CAT officer-in- charge. “A church parking lot, an elementary school playground, these are all projects that will continue to serve and benefit the local community now and long into the future. But what is even more endearing is the legacy we leave behind with the people we train who take the skills learned in our apprenticeship program with them to benefit their community here.”
U.S. Army Pacific stands ready to set the conditions for success in the Pacific Region with more than 106,000 service members and employees in support of the U.S. Army’s efforts in the Pacific.