Wednesday, 23 August, 2017

What Does the US Military Do on the Island of Guam?

A solid-fuel Korea News Service via AP A solid-fuel"Pukguksong-2 missile lifts off during its launch test at an undisclosed location in North Korea
Preston Stone | 13 August, 2017, 10:09

Long used to living within the range of North Korea's artillery, people in the South have generally ignored its aggressiveness and nuclear and long-range missile tests. Its military officials intend for them to land a little outside the 14-mile mark that is accepted as the limit of territorial waters, North Korean state media said, subject to Kim Jong-un's agreement.

Guam's governor on Thursday said the USA territory was "well-equipped" to handle any North Korean strike thanks to robust infrastructure that had survived earthquakes and typhoons, after Pyongyang released a detailed plan to launch missiles towards the island. The military plans to move thousands of U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa in southern Japan.

"Do not look at the flash or fireball - it can blind you", the note said.

"We've got defense mechanisms in place ... they have the ability to seek out the missiles with kinetic energy and destroy it".

"Things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?" But pushing the envelope, or just threatening to do so, is what North Korea does best.

The five-minute drill begins with a siren on radio, and cars are stopped at designated spots.

Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run from August 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air.

With North Korea threatening to send a salvo of ballistic missiles close to Guam, a USA military hub in the Pacific, pressure could grow for Washington to put its multibillion-dollar missile defense system into use and shoot them out of the air.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

Keeping up his tough talk from his New Jersey golf resort where he is on a working vacation, Trump warned Kim Jong Un's government to "get their act together" or face extraordinary trouble, and suggested his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea was too mild.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the worldwide community to work with North Korea to "resume the path of dialogue without conditions", following a call with Trump Saturday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as "the wrong answer", while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump's statements were "very worrying".

The White House says that Trump - in a phone call Friday to President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) - saluted Xi for China's United Nations vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea.

Such threats are why the Americans are on Guam to begin with.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people's faith - the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century- has been on display in recent days. "In the President's words they are behind us '1,000 percent.' As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe".

But there's also some resentment about not being able to vote in the general election for USA president. "About 162,000 people - mostly U.S. citizens - call the island home".

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