Some CNMI lawmakers expressed support yesterday to a Guam legislative resolution asking U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress to permanently place a missile defense system in Guam to protect U.S. island territories, neighboring Micronesian islands, and the Asia-Pacific region.
“I respect Guam for adopting the resolution. I agree that a permanent missile defense system should be placed there since Guam has existing military bases and it only makes sense,” CNMI Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune.
Torres said the Senate will discuss this resolution during their session on Thursday.
Guam Sen. Tina Rose Muna Barnes transmitted yesterday to the CNMI Legislature a copy of Resolution 186-32, adopted by the Guam Legislature on Feb. 1.
Resolution 186-32 is “respectfully requesting President Barack Obama, Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and the United States Congress to permanently station a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and a Patriot Missile Defense System [in] Guam for the protection of the people of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the neighboring islands throughout Micronesia, and the Asia-Pacific region.”
CNMI Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign and Federal Relations, said this “should have been done a long time” ago.
“It’s about time. The safety and well-being of our people should have been their utmost priority,” Conner said.
THAAD system is the world’s newest land-based strategic missile defense system with the capability to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during its final or terminal phase of flight.
On April 4, 2013, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed an order to deploy a THAAD system to Guam in response to North Korea’s threats of launching a nuclear, ballistic missile attack targeting Guam.
Guam senators said a 2012 assessment report states that a THAAD system would be best suited to protect military bases in Guam and Japan from a North Korean attack.
A Patriot Missile Defense System, meanwhile, is a mobile, ground-based interceptor with sites throughout the globe that targets UAV, cruise missiles, and short-range ballistic missiles.
Guam senators believe that the island’s strategic location contributes to the U.S. national defense posture in the Asia-Pacific region.
Guam is home to some 160,000 U.S. citizens and major military base installations of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force.
Throughout the year, Guam hosts a number of joint training operations and exercises for the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and the Navy, indicative of Guam being one of the nation’s most strategic forward-operating bases in the Asia-Pacific region.
Guam senators believe that the permanent installation of a missile defense system in Guam “would effectively serve to deter aggression and sustain peace in the region.”
The Guam Legislature also sent a copy of Resolution 279-32 to the CNMI House and Senate.
The second resolution, adopted by the Guam Legislature also on Feb. 1, promotes affordable and alternative regional transportation between Guam and the CNMI by means of a ferry service or similar vessels.