Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) is seeking information from the U.S. Army on fortifying land-based missile defense capabilities in Guam given its “strategic importance,” which remains “highly vulnerable” amid escalating Chinese military aggression.
Mr. Gallagher, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), sent a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, pointing out that the United States has “significant gaps” in capabilities in defending Guam against China’s cruise missiles.
He underscores Guam’s military significance, saying the small tropical island “plays an essential role” in defending U.S. interests in the Western Pacific region and its allies.
Guam, the westernmost U.S. territory, hosts Naval Base Guam, the Navy’s sole submarine base in the Western Pacific, and Andersen Air Force Base, a large air base equipped with strategic bombers and fighters. The island also houses more than 20,000 U.S. troops.
“But despite its strategic importance, Guam remains highly vulnerable to an increasingly sophisticated network of missiles from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), especially its cruise missiles,” Mr. Gallagher writes.
With the geographic advantage—China is closer to Guam than is Hawaii—the Chinese regime “has spent decades developing both short and intermediate-range ballistic missiles that can target Guam,” he says in the letter.
“[China] has also developed a formidable inventory of highly capable cruise missiles that can be launched from multiple platforms, including from ships, submarines, and bombers,” Mr. Gallagher writes.
The Republican lawmaker notes that “while the United States has developed sea and land-based ballistic missile defense capabilities and sufficient sea-based cruise missile defense capabilities, it has “significant gaps in capabilities to defend against PRC cruise missiles attacking land-based targets such as Guam.”
“Such deficiencies put at grave risk our ability to use Guam as a vital submarine port and base to support operations in any contingency with [China],” Mr. Gallagher warns.
The House Select Committee chairman then raises the serious issue of multiple significant delays of “the Army’s cruise missile defense system designed to defend against cruise missiles.”
The Army’s launcher prototype for this missile defense system couldn’t be delivered on time because of supply chain issues, Mr. Gallagher says, citing an Army spokesman who said its availability might be delayed to late 2024.
It’s important to find “alternative options that could fill the defense gap created by the delivery delays,” he says. He notes that “the United States has sent to Ukraine multiple National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), which, according to the Pentagon, ‘have been extremely successful.'”
“Unfortunately, the Army has not provided a similarly effective system to Guam,” the letter reads.
Mr. Gallagher then requests the Army to provide his committee with information about the delays because of supply chain issues, asking if there were any supply chains based in China. He also asks the Army whether alternative defense systems, such as NASAMS or Iron Dome Defensive Systems, are deployed to defend Guam as a “gap filler.”
The U.S. Army didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
CCP’s Military Seeks to Defeat ‘Strong Enemy’
According to the annual China Military Power Report published last month by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Chinese communist regime seeks to strengthen its military to “fight and win wars” against a “strong enemy.”
The Pentagon estimates that China “possessed more than 500 operational nuclear warheads as of May 2023—on track to exceed previous projections,” the report states. “DoD estimates that the PRC will probably have more than 1,000 operational nuclear warheads by 2030.”
The report also notes that Beijing is likely to enhance its conventional missile technologies to allow it to strike the continental United States directly.
“The PRC may be exploring [the] development of conventionally armed intercontinental-range missile systems that would allow the PRC to threaten conventional strikes against targets in the continental United States,” it states.
The rapid nuclear expansion and modernization, as well as missile systems, come as an increasing number of analysts and experts claim that the Chinese regime is developing its nuclear forces with the explicit purpose of directly threatening the United States.
Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this article.
From The Epoch Times