Guam Update: Guam’s Critical Infrastructure
Updated: Mar 20
Last year, we wrote about Guam and its importance in the defense of the United States. Our focus was primarily on the future Defense of Guam, including strategic initiatives outlined in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) such as the proposed missile defense system, repurposing aging cruiser, sufficient manning, training, and stationing of Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force personnel on the island, and supporting the surrounding region (You can check out the full blog post here). A lot has been happening with Guam since then that we’d like to focus on today, primarily on its current critical infrastructure projects.
Guam’s Critical Infrastructure There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that are considered vital to the national security, national economic security, and/or national public health or safety of the United States. These include:
1. Chemical 2. Commercial Facilities 3. Communications 4. Critical Manufacturing 5. Dams 6. Defense Industrial Base 7. Emergency Services 8. Energy 9. Financial Services 10. Food and Agriculture 11. Government Facilities 12. Healthcare and Public Health 13. Information Technology 14. Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste 15. Transportation Systems 16. Water and Wastewater
Since Guam is a relatively small territory, with only about 169,000 residents on 210 square miles of land as of 2021, not all the critical infrastructure sectors come into play. However, the ones that do are vital to the people of Guam and as such, their security is of the utmost importance.
Guam’s Transportation Systems: Port of Guam
One of the major critical infrastructure sectors for Guam is the Jose D. Leon Guerrero Commercial Port (Port of Guam), Guam’s only deep-water port, receiving about 90% of the island’s imports. Last year, Guam was awarded $5.7 million in grants under America’s Marine Highway Program. Grant funds can be used to purchase low-emission U.S.-manufactured equipment, such as container reach stackers and cranes, as long as all iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials are produced in the United States to help alleviate supply chain bottlenecks. Additionally, the Port of Guam was one of several Pacific ports that received a federal grant of $100 million through the 2022 and 2023 Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). The PSGP helps to ensure supply chain resiliency within Guam and the Marina Islands by enhancing cybersecurity measures and building threat readiness.
Additionally, members from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Government of Guam, and industry partners completed the annual Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program at the Port of Guam. This included cyber incidents, coordination of response during loss of communication, and establishment of a Unified Command to manage response efforts.
More recently, officials broke ground on a new waterline replacement project. This modernization effort will not only fix problems the old system was causing for the past 3 years, but it will also help prevent future shutdowns of port operations.
Guam Next Steps
The progress on securing the Port of Guam is important. However, as the United States continues to monitor the every-changing maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific, especially with the challenge of China as a pacing threat; more is still needed to protect the critical infrastructure of Guam and its support to the national defense of the United States. That includes a major focus on building an air and missile defense architecture in Guam over the next several years. Either way, a lot is happening in Guam and will continue to do so for years to come.
To learn more about the current state of Guam and what their people are facing, you can check out the Governor of Guam's 2023 State of the Island Address that took place on March 15, 2023 at https://www.kuam.com/story/48552734/gov-lou-leon-guerreros-2023-state-of-the-island-address.