Guam's residents concerned but have faith in U.S. military

Pauline Gross
August 13, 2017

The American military presence on Guam consists of two bases: Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south.

Today, Naval Base Guam is the home port for four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and two submarine tenders.

Similar threats in 2013 led Guam's U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo to advocate for the THAAD system, she said in a statement Wednesday.

Guam, with a 2016 population of nearly 163,000, has been fought over for centuries.

Guamanians have served in all major USA wars since World War II and see military service as a source of pride. "Some people [say], 'We just want our peace, our island groove that we've always have.' There are other people who are just sick and exhausted of the threats from North Korea because there sure have been many over the years".

Andersen Air Force Base hosts a Navy helicopter squadron and Air Force bombers that rotate to Guam from the US mainland.

The strip of land in the western Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of Chicago, and just 4 miles (6 km) wide at its narrowest point.

"Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely", the president said on Twitter, adding "hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!"

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The U.S. military began rotating bombers - the B-2 stealth bomber as well as the B-1 and B-52 - to Andersen in 2004.

It's not the first time North Korea has threatened Guam, which is a crucial, strategic hub for US forces in the Pacific. The rotations also came as North Korea increasingly upped the ante in the standoff over its development of nuclear weapons.

"It's just like setting off fireworks because most of their guided missiles just crash midway through flight", she said.

Guam is armed with the U.S. Army's defense system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which can intercept missiles. It's created to destroy ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

"I'm pro military buildup", said resident Gus Aflague, 60, whose grandfather and brother both joined the U.S. Navy. Residents do not pay USA income taxes or vote in the general election for US president. The Navy used the island as a coaling base and communications station until Japan seized the island on December 10, 1941.

Resident Isaac Camacho, 19, says he feels Guam's relationship with the US mainland is "a little misunderstood on their part". Guam was also a refueling and transfer spot for military personnel heading to Southeast Asia.

Having experienced a Japanese invasion in World War Two and countless earthquakes and super-typhoons, there was no United States community better prepared than Guam "for any contingency", Calvo, dressed in a light blue tropical shirt, said in an interview at his office.

Other reports by GizPress

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