Solomon Islands - USA Relations
Some of the bitterest fighting of World War II occurred on this archipelago. During World War II, US and Japanese forces fought each other in Solomon Islands, then a British protectorate, one of the most hotly contested World War II battlefields on earth. East of the two major islands of New Guinea and Australia lies a barrier of smaller islands which extends from the Bismarck Archipelago to New Caledonia. As a series of potential air and sea bases, these islands offered the Japanese in the spring of 1942 the attractive possibility of cutting deep into the South Pacific and of severing Australia's and New Zealand's life line to America's west coast. Conversely, the islands provided a ladder by which the Allies might climb northward to the enemy bases in the Carolines, bypassing the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and possibly extend our sway west to the southern Philippines. Here, also, lay the opportunity for waging a punishing war of attrition on an economically inferior enemy.
Although the Allies initially were manned and equipped for a defensive war in the Pacific, the invasion of Guadalcanal and the Papuan campaign marked the beginning of a two-pronged Allied offensive north through the Solomons and along the northern coast of New Guinea. By the end of 1943, the Allies were in command of the entire Solomon chain. The struggle for control of the Solomon Islands was a critical turning point in the war against Japan. These campaigns can best be appreciated as a sequence of interacting naval, land, and air operations.
The Battle of Guadalcanal became one of the most important, and bloody campaigns, fought in the Pacific War as the Allies began to repulse Japanese expansion. Of the approximately 36,000 Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal, about 26,000 were killed or missing in action, 9,000 died of disease, and only 1000 were captured. The movie “the Thin Red Line” is based on the Battle of Guadalcanal. On 01 November 1943, Marines landed on Bougainville in the final major operation of the Solomons campaign.
The large-scale U.S. presence toward the end of the war dwarfed anything seen before in the islands. American soldiers were well liked because they paid well for services provided, interacted positively with locals (e.g. sharing meals as friends), supported local communities and treated people of diverse backgrounds with greater equality than was previously seen.
In recognition of the close ties forged between the United States and the people of Solomon Islands during World War II, the U.S. Congress financed the construction of the Solomon Islands Parliament building. The United States participates in annual commemorations of the Battle of Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands, which was a critical turning-point for Allied forces in the Pacific theater of World War II.
The two countries established diplomatic relations following Solomon Islands' independence in 1978 from the United Kingdom. The U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea is also accredited to Solomon Islands. U.S. diplomatic representation is handled by the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea. The United States maintains a Consular Agency in Honiara, Solomon Islands to provide consular services. The United States and Solomon Islands are committed to working together and improving regional stability, promoting democracy and human rights, combating trafficking in persons, responding to climate change, increasing trade, and promoting sustainable economic development.
In Solomon Islands and across the Pacific Islands region, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports programs that help communities adapt to the negative impacts of global climate change and supports disaster relief efforts and disaster risk reduction programs to enhance local capacity for disaster response. USAID’s Pacific Islands Regional Office is located in Manila, Philippines and covers 12 nations: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. The United States builds the capacity and resilience of Solomon Islands to adapt to climate change through regional assistance that covers these 12 Pacific Island countries.
The U.S. Coast Guard provides training to Solomon Islands border protection officers, and the U.S. military also provides appropriate military education and training courses to national security officials. U.S. military ships regularly call on ports in the Solomon Islands to engage in training and exchanges with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. The United States also implements a program on unexploded ordnance on Guadalcanal, and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accountability Agency deploys missions throughout the year to recover and repatriate remains of U.S. soldiers from World War II. The U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby issued a disaster declaration and provided $50,000 to the Solomon Islands to assist with the Dengue Fever outbreak in 2013 and provided $250,000 to assist with Cyclone Ita flood recovery in 2014.
Solomon Islands is a party to the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, which provides access for U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee from the U.S. industry. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement associated with the Treaty, the United States government currently provides $21 million per year to Pacific Island parties. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2016 the United States exported $9.9 million worth of goods to Solomon Islands and imported $2.1 million worth.
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