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Military wants public's feedback on missile defense system

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It's been operating on a temporary mission since it was deployed on Guam over two years ago after threats from North Korea, and now the US Army wants your feedback on the proposal for a permanent stationing on Guam of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile battery.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Slown said, "Tonight at the Barrigada Community Center, we're holding a public information meetings, it's a part of the National Environmental Policy Act." Military officials are on Guam to engage with the island community on the environmental assessment for the permanent stationing of the THAAD. Slown is the task force commander for Talon 6, and said, "So the environmental assessment entails doing a biological assessment, a cultural assessment, a socio-economic assessment and just getting comments from the community on any concerns they have."

As you recall, the THAAD was deployed to Guam in April 2013 on an emergency basis in response to missile threats by North Korea. The current battery has been operating on a temporary mission at Andersen Air Force Base since. The environmental assessment, which military officials describe as a less complicated EIS, analyzes two alternatives and a no-action alternative. One would be a permanent stationing of the THAAD with permanent troops and the other alternative with troops on rotation.

Slown estimates about 100 troops and their families to move to Guam if the process is approved, adding, "It's twofold - being out here permanently it shows we want to be contributing and respecting members of Guam, so it will provide protection to Guam on a permanent basis. The other part of that is it helps with the Department of the Army and providing a regional and homeland missile defense capability on a permanent status."

The preferred alternative also includes site improvements and operational changes made to the current THAAD battery as well as expansion of the current cargo drop zone into adjacent areas of Northwest Field. Slown says not only will the public be able to comment on the proposal but also learn more about the people behind the THAAD battery. "I would encourage them to come out because with THAAD being here, we'll provide theater ballistic missile protection to Guam, so an opportunity learn what we do as THAAD and to just to come out and see any concerns they have and be able to answer their questions and provide comments on any problems they may have," he said.

The comment period goes on until July 9. The first public hearing goes on until 7pm at the Barrigada Community Center. A second public hearing is set from 1:30pm to 4:30pm at the Dededo Mayor's Office on Saturday June 27. For more information go to www.thaadguamea.com

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