What Does the US Military Do on the Island of Guam?


Tourists stroll along a road on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, Aug. 10, 2017. The Navy and Air Force fall under Joint Region Marianas command.

"He's not going to go around threatening Guam".

Residents of Guam have been issued with advice on what to do if North Korea launches an attack.

That puts its total population of 170,000 in range of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles that Kim Jong Un's regime has threatened to fire as a counter-punch to President Donald Trump's warning that the USA would respond with "fire and fury" to provocative actions by North Korea.

A boy plays near the World War II remnants of a torpedo at Asan Memorial Park on the island of Guam. "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".

The U.S. set up the Naval Station in Guam in 1899, designating the whole island as a base.

"If our past generations dealt with it, so can we", said Santos, the Guam Museum employee, who was born and raised on the island.

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The naval base dates to 1898, when the US took over Guam from Spain after the Spanish-American War.

He noted that Guam had many buildings made to withstand powerful typhoons, but acknowledged that nothing can protect against a thermonuclear attack. However, Guamanians are still not allowed to vote in the US presidential election.

For decades, Guam has been a critical asset for the USA military, housing 6,000 troops and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

In Guam's capital Hagatna, residents were unruffled by Pyongyang's rhetoric. It's not enough. In the event of war, North Korea's rocket forces-and possibly its nuclear weapons-will scatter to avoid detection.

"They believe that we are not true USA citizens, when we do have plenty of Chamorro people going into the USA military and serving for their country and dying for their country", he said.

Because Guam is a USA territory, the US military may launch forces from there without worrying about upsetting a host nation that may object to USA actions. Chamorros are the indigenous people of Guam. Protecting the island is the U.S. Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which is used to shoot down ballistic missiles.

The 27-year-old is preparing to cast into the turquoise ocean that extends as far as the eye can see - the same waters that North Korea is developing a plan to send four missiles into, less than 25 miles from where he stands. Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco contributed reporting.