By Rachel Oswald
July 9, 2013
WASHINGTON — A number of Guam legislators are calling for the U.S. military to leave in place on their island ballistic missile defenses that were set up on a temporary basis this spring amid saber-rattling by North Korea.
Last week, a trio of local Guam lawmakers introduced a resolution in the Guam legislature that urges the U.S. government “to permanently station a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system and a Patriot Missile Defense System on Guam.”
Guam is home to a major U.S. navy base from which the United States projects submarine and strategic air power throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. territory might be vulnerable to North Korea’s intermediate-range Musudan missile, though the range of the ballistic missile appears not yet to be known in the West.
In early April, the Defense Department announced the fielding to Guam of a THAAD battery. Such units comprise a truck-mounted launcher, interceptors, radar, and fire control. The launcher can be equipped with up to eight missile interceptors. The technology has the capability to eliminate short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in their final flight stages, inside or outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
The antimissile deployment came on the heels of threats by the North Korean People’s Army Supreme Command that it would carry out attacks on “the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zone[s] in the Pacific.” Since then, tensions have cooled substantially and Pyongyang is making overtures at diplomatic re-engagement.
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