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Guam: A Vital Link in the United States’ Defense

Guam has been a strategic location for the United States Military for many years. But how did Guam become so valuable and why is it important to our defense today?

Guam is an island in the North Pacific Ocean that is a territory of the United States. It is the largest, most populous, and southernmost island of the Mariana Islands, 5,800 miles west of San Francisco and 1,600 miles east of Manila. It is commonly referred to as “Where America’s day begins.”

Since World War II, the United States has established multiple military facilities across Guam, with about 1/3 of the land currently owned by U.S. armed forces. This includes Anderson Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam, Naval Forces Marianas (a mixture of Anderson AFB and Naval Base Guam), along with NTCS Guam and a hospital. Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo, Guam provides full support to the USAF air forces, holds one of four bomber locations throughout the world, and F-22 Raptors and strategic bombers rotate through the base. Naval Base Guam is a deep-water port that plays a critical role in U.S. Navy missions in the Pacific. Naval Forces Marinas is operated by both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, with the objective of supporting all Navy and Air Force operations in the Marianas for any reason.

Guam’s strategic value continues to be immeasurable, primarily for its location in the Pacific. It allows the U.S. to “project power within the Indo-Pacific region.” Since WWII, major offenses have launched from the island, including during the Korean and Vietnam War. Guam continues to support monitoring adversaries in the region (China in particular), support free and open trade in the Pacific, and provide assurance to key allies in the area.

With such a strategic location and the fact that the people of Guam are United States citizens, we need to ensure Guam’s defense from China and other nearby adversaries. This needs to include:

  1. Continued support for the missile defense system proposed for Guam. In the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, $1 billion is set to be allocated for the integrated air and missile defense architecture, including multiple sensors, command and control, and interceptors. Continued funding and support in its development is imperative to get in place prior to its current timeline of 2028.

  2. Repurposing aging cruisers to serve as temporary command and control nodes, defense patrols, and mobile sea-based testing sites for systems as they develop.

  3. Manning, training, and stationing a sufficient Navy and Marine Corps, and Air Force presence to support the defense of the island. This includes the projected 5,000 Marines transferring from Okinawa to Guam in the next few years.

  4. Support the surrounding region, including other islands within the Marian Island chain. While Guam is a vital part of the United States, any action taken on the island will impact the other islands in the region. It is important to ensure their safety as well, including protecting open sea and trade routes.

The next five years will be pivotal in preparations. If an adversary makes a move, the United States needs to be prepared.


3. "Defending Guam," Hudson Institute


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