Leaders write defense secretary about missile defense - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Leaders write defense secretary about missile defense

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - As the U.S. strengthens its missile defense systems after recent threats from North Korea, island leaders have fired off letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel along with Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo to ensure Guam is protected just like the rest of the country.

Mark Calvo said, "We'd like a prompt response in the next 24-48 hours." Governor Eddie Calvo's top military advisor is referring to a letter sent over the weekend to Hagel after announcing the United States' plans to expand the U.S. missile defense system in response to the potential threat posed by North Korea and Iran. Hagel said, "The reason that we're doing what we're doing, and the reason we're advancing our program here for homeland security, is to not take any chances, to stay ahead of the threat."

It was in December North Korea launched its third nuclear test, which resulted in a new set of United Nations sanctions. This then led to North Korea threatening to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.  Hagel told reporters North Korea has engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations prompting the U.S. to add 14 missile interceptors to its defense system in Alaska and California by 2017. Additionally he announced the U.S. will partner with Japan to deploy an additional early warning advanced radar system there. Currently there are already 30 interceptors in place along the U.S. West Coast, and with this most recent DOD announcement island leaders are asking: what about Guam ?

Military Oversight Chair Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. also fired off a letter to Hagel and Bordallo. "We are the western most American soil here. and not only do we have two major base facilities we have the Navy and we also have the Air Force, but soon hopefully if things materialize over the course of the next five to six years we will have a military facility, a Marine facility. So that calls to requesting and urging the DOD to please consider providing additional defensive measures whether it's an anti-ballistic missile capability here in addition to what already exists," he said.

Prior to leaving on his trade mission to Vietnam, Governor Calvo penned a letter to Hagel requesting that he provide information about whether Guam is protected. "I hope that in your every pursuit to protect our nation and its allies from the darkening clouds of aggression forming in Asia, you will consider Guam and the other Pacific territories, that you will consider us as much as part of our homeland as Honolulu, New York City or Washington D.C.," he said.

"We want to give them the benefit of the doubt that in fact that they do have adequate air defenses on Guam. And not so much be overly concerned about this latest announcement to put these missile defense systems in Alaska and Hawaii. There may be again adequate defenses with real world DOD assets in and around the pacific adequate defenses for Guam but we'd like to know if that in fact is true," he said.

Senator Aguon meanwhile says that DOD would not invest all of its resources here in terms of the two major military facilities without having some defense capabilities.

Bordallo responded to Aguon saying she's aware that DOD officials are confident that the ground-based mid-course defense system will provide protection not only for the Continental U.S. but for Guam as well. She adds she'll continue to work with DOD officials in seeking additional briefings on this issue.

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