Guam is key U.S. military outpost now in North Korea's cross hairs

Frederick Owens
August 10, 2017

McInerney's statement came just one day after a Defence Intelligence Agency report on the progress of North Korea's nuclear program was leaked to the Washington Post. Guam, popular with Japanese and South Korean tourists, has a population of about 163,000.

"Welcome to Ground Zero", a U.S. customs official joked on arrival, aware of the North Korean threat but laughing it off with a bit of gallows humor. While there has been some resistance and displeasure from the people of Guam over the US military's presence, it is also essential to the island's economy, second only to tourism in importance.

Guam became a U.S. territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The bombers joined their counterparts from the Republic of Korea and Japanese air forces for joint exercises August 7. Protecting the island is the U.S. Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which is used to shoot down ballistic missiles.

Many locals in Guam are confident in the protection afforded by the U.S. military. The THAAD system is specifically created to shoot down ballistic missiles.

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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said in an interview with WCPO Wednesday, "We've got to also make clear to our allies and to our enemies like North Korea that. we're going to stand firm".

"We're very concerned about the news but we've been given assurance by the local government primarily through Governor Eddie Calvo that he is working with the military to ensure that the safety of all the residents are the utmost priority", said Norman Analista, president of the Filipino Community of Guam. Guam residents are expressing a mix of concern and fear. Alexandra Harvey added, "My husband's military, so from the military side of it, I think if it was really imminent they would have let us know". Its natives are USA citizens by birth.

There are said to be about 6,000 United States troops on Guam with nearly a third of the land controlled by the U.S. military.

"If there was to be conflict in this region, understand that there is an archipelago, 600 miles long called the Marianas that encompasses two USA territories -- Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas", he told CNN's Jake Tapper.

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