Following a warning Tuesday by President Donald Trump to stop threatening the United States, North Korean officials said early Wednesday they were considering using intermediate-range ballistic missiles near Guam, home to strategic U.S. military installations.
North Korea’s military officials said they were “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12,” according to a statement read by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Why did the North Koreans say they would target Guam, a small island in the South Pacific?
In part, because on Monday night two US B-1 bombers flew from Guam over the Korean peninsula in joint exercises with Japan and South Korea, angering North Korean leaders.
Here’s a look at Guam and the U.S. military installations there.
Why is Guam strategic to the United States?
Guam is a U.S. territory. Everyone born on the island is an American citizen.
How did it become a U.S. territory?
The United States took control of Guam following the Spanish-American War of 1898. The U.S. kept the island until the Japanese attack on December 1941. Japan occupied the island until 1944 when the U.S. took it back. Since then, it has been a U.S. territory.
Where is Guam?
Guam is an island in the western Pacific Ocean. It is about 4,000 miles from Hawaii, and 2,100 miles from Pyongyang, North Korea.
Why is it important as far as the U.S. military is concerned?
The Joint Region Marianas – the U.S. military command on the island – is made up of two major military installations – Anderson Air Force Base (36th Wing, Air Mobility Command) and Naval Base Guam.
From the Department of Defense:
Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), is located on the north end of Guam, approximately 15 miles from the capital, Agana (or Ha-gan-ya). Andersen AFB is in the village of Yigo (pronounced "Jeego). … The bulk of Andersen's duties since WWII have been as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base, supporting activities in Korea and Vietnam.
Assignment tours are 24 months for unaccompanied or single service members and 36 months for accompanied service members.
There are 2,334 active duty service members on the base. Four hundred civilians work on the base along with 572 contractors.
Anderson Air Force Base hosts B-52 bombers, B-1B bombers and B-2 bombers in addition to fighter jets.
Naval Base Guam has approximately 6,300 active duty Navy members, and, according to the base’s website:
Naval Base Guam is the home of Commander Naval Forces Marianas, Commander Submarine Squadron 15, Coast Guard Sector Guam and Naval Special Warfare Unit One and supports 28 other tenant commands. It is the home base of three Los Angeles class submarines and to dozens of units operating in support of US Pacific Command, US Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet.
Who lives there?
The indigenous people of the island are the Chamorro. About 40 percent of the population of Guam is Chamorro.
In light of the threat from North Korea, what type of protection does the island have?
In addition to fighter planes, bombers, ships, and submarines, Guam has a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. THAAD is a defense system capable of shooting down an incoming ballistic missile.