World

There's more to Guam than USA military bases, residents say

There's more to Guam than USA military bases, residents say

South Korea, which fought a war with the North that ended in a stalemate in 1953, is highly technologically advanced and analysts estimate it could develop an atomic device within months of deciding to do so. At the northern end of the island, Andersen Air Force Base houses B-1 bombers as well as the Navy's Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Twenty-five.

The naval base is an important outpost for USA fast-attack submarines that are a key means for gathering intelligence in the region, including the Korean peninsula and the South China Sea where China has been building military bases on man-made islands.

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. Three weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage was legal throughout the U.S., including all its territories.

"We have to understand that even in a million-to-one scenario we have to be prepared with Guam being what it has been for decades, an American territory with strategic military assets in place in a very dynamic region".

As it is, the US has a robust military presence in the region, including six B-1 bombers in Guam and Air Force fighter jet units in South Korea, plus other assets across the Pacific Ocean and in the skies above.

While experts estimate the consequences and economic impact of an imminent us vs North Korea war, some Guamanians are stockpiling essentials to survive while taking shelter if Pyongyang makes good on its promise to strike the island.

Padilla expressed confidence that there "is still a lot of room for dialogue" to thwart North Korea's plan, citing the presence of Pyongyang's foreign minister at the Asean meeting in Manila last week as a "positive sign".

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"Make sure you understand that this is not the final decision", Robert Carlin, the former chief of the Northeast Asia Division at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, told reporters on a call organized by 38 North, a website that brings together experts on North Korea.

For decades, Guam has been a critical asset for the USA military, housing 6,000 troops and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The tiny island is home to major U.S. air and naval facilities. But it wasn't known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than USA detainees.

If North Korea launches missiles on Guam, it would take only about 14 minutes for the rockets to reach the U.S. territory, the island's Homeland Security spokeswoman announced. The U.S. took back control of Guam on July 21, 1944.

"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.

The official languages of Guam are English and Chamorro, which means 'noble.' It's a Malayo-Polynesian language that has incorporated Spanish words over time. It did so to compensate for US forces diverted from other bases in the Asia-Pacific region to fight in the Middle East.

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo said while he agreed with sending a clear message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he didn't "want the temperature to get any higher".

McAvoy reported from Honolulu.


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