WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU) raised concerns Friday about ongoing threats from North Korea during a full committee posture hearing, held by the House Armed Services Committee, on the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Budget Request of the Department of Defense.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provided testimony.
Bordallo asked whether the THAAD system would be permanently deployed to Guam, consistent with the Record of Decision on the Guam and CNMI Military Relocation environmental impact statement. The purpose of the missile defense capabilities in Guam was to protect its citizens and critical military assets from broad missile threats in the region, including North Korea. She also asked about the level of confidence in the readiness of U.S. forces, given the budget constraints and asked how the Pentagon would be able to identify a readiness crisis should one arise.
Hagel reiterated that the U.S. military is prepared to respond to any threat to the country and national security interests. Dempsey also provided reassurance, noting that the Pentagon is working to ensure the safety of the military and civilian communities in Guam. On the question of the permanency of a THAAD system in Guam, he said the Pentagon has set a 90-day trial to decide whether it is in the best interest of national security to leave it on island.
“The release of the President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014…included substantial support for strengthening Guam’s role as a strategic hub in the Asia-Pacific, and I appreciated the opportunity to address ongoing threats from North Korea as well as the readiness of our Armed Forces,” said Bordallo. “I thanked Secretary Hagel and General Dempsey for their leadership and pro-active approach with respect to the current North Korean threats. Their willingness to reposition a THAAD missile defense system on Guam is reassuring news for our community, and continues with the longstanding support and cooperation the military and community share on the island of Guam.
“I also appreciate the department’s continued commitment of funding for the realignment of Marines from Okinawa to Guam. We’ve made some positive progress this past year and I think the fiscal year 2014 budget builds off this progress. This period of uncertainty for our island is a reminder of the need to strengthen our military’s presence in this increasingly vital region.” (PR)