Guam Delegate Joins Calls to Bolster Island’s Defenses Against Chinese Missile Threat

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
November 20, 2023US News
Guam Delegate Joins Calls to Bolster Island’s Defenses Against Chinese Missile Threat
A U.S. soldier rehearses reloading a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 6, 2019. (Army photo by Capt. Adan Cazarez)

Delegate James Moylan (R-Guam) is stepping up pressure for Congress and the U.S. military to bolster Guam’s defenses against a potential missile attack in a hypothetical future war with China.

On Thursday, Mr. Moylan told NTD’s “Capitol Report” that he remains “very concerned” about Guam’s defensive posture in the face of advanced new weapons being developed by China’s People’s Liberation Army.

He noted Guam rests about 1,900 miles from the Chinese mainland and is positioned even closer to U.S. allies within the region.

Guam’s geographic position makes it a valuable location for aircraft and warships if they need to refit and refuel in a potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific region. The island hosts the only submarine base in the western Pacific, and Anderson Air Force Base provides key runway space for strategic bombers and fighters. Guam’s value to the United States and its allies could also make it an attractive target for adversaries to attack in a future conflict in the region.

Mr. Moylan said the United States must establish a 360-degree missile defense system to protect Guam fully, while adding that there’s still a way to go before that goal is met.

“Right now, we have some capability, but it’s not what we need to defend against the Communist Chinese Party,” Mr. Moylan said, referring to the ruling party in China’s one-party state.

James Moylan
Del. James Moylan, (R-Guam) in a still released by NTD on Nov. 17, 2023. (NTD)

Last week, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), sent a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, raising the alarm about delays in the development of a new land-based cruise missile defense system known as Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 (IFPC). Mr. Gallagher warned that these delays leave a gap in the U.S. military’s ability to defend critical positions like Guam.

Mr. Gallagher asked that Ms. Wormuth consider deploying National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) or Iron Dome missile defense systems to Guam as a means of covering some of the gaps in the island’s defenses while the Army deals with delays with the IFPC system. The United States has provided NASAMS and Iron Dome systems to Ukraine to help it defend against aerial attacks by Russian forces.

Navy vessels are moored in port at the U.S. Naval Base Guam at Apra Harbor
Navy vessels are moored in port at the U.S. Naval Base Guam at Apra Harbor, Guam, on March 5, 2016. (Major Jeff Landis, USMC (Ret.)/Naval Base Guam/Handout/ Reuters)

Extra Funding for Guam’s Missile Defense

Earlier this year, Mr. Moylan introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would provide an additional $147 million in funding for Guam’s missile defense system. Though he is a non-voting member of Congress, Mr. Moylan told “Capitol Report” that his amendment is making progress and could soon pass.

He also endorsed Mr. Gallagher’s idea to provide NASAMS and Iron Dome systems to Guam in the meantime. Mr. Moylan also suggested the United States could procure more missile defense systems through its allies if supply chain issues continue to delay the development of the new IFPC system.

“Like Congressman Gallagher is saying, let’s do something right away. We have capabilities in Ukraine that maybe we can use on Guam. We have other friendly nations that can assist us as well. We just can’t wait around because things are not ready at this point. What are we going to do in the meantime?” Mr. Moylan said.

Two B-1B Lancers, assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., arrive at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as part of a Bomber Task Force deployment on July 17, 2020. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Christina Bennett)

The U.S. military is continuing to build up its forces on Guam. In January, the U.S. Marine Corps officially activated Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz on Guam and announced plans to relocate some Marine units to the new base from Okinawa.

Mr. Moylan said Guam is doing what it can to support this ongoing military buildup but said the resident workforce on the small island is limited, and this buildup is reliant on foreign workers. In addition to providing new missile defense systems for Guam, Mr. Moylan urged Congress to include a resolution in the NDAA that extends work visas for those foreign workers.

“We need the workforce, so we need that to pass,” he said.

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