US to build up Guam defenses amidst rising tensions with China
Guam, a small territory of the United States in the Pacific Ocean, was more distinguished as a tourist island than as a part of the United States. But when China released an overly dramatized video of six bombers commencing a simulated attack on Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base in 2020 as a way to express anger at the visit of a senior US State Department official to Taipei, residents of Guam were suddenly put at risk due to their association with the United States. Additionally, China has developed around 300 new missiles, which have been dubbed the “Guam Killers” by United States officials, as the missiles can easily reach Guam from China. Now, the United States is equipping Guam to be a new line of defense against China in case any conflicts arise.
Even though Guam hosts a United States naval base and air force base, the island will become a major staging point for bombers, troops, and submarines, as prompted by Lloyd Austin’s, the Secretary of Defense, global posture review in 2021. The Indo-Pacific was a main focus in the review, and as such, Biden’s administration has made rising tensions with China its main foreign policy priority. The Department of Defense has been directed by the review to enhance “infrastructure in Guam and Australia,” and to prioritize “military construction across the Pacific Islands”.
Improvements such as an increased ability for the Andersen Air Force Base’s to move United States troops in and out of the territory in the case of conflict with China are set to take place next year. Improvements to Guam’s defense are vital to the United States as it is the only United States base in the western Pacific with the capacity of holding heavy bombers for long periods of time and can easily send off submarines when needed without a high risk of detection. Additionally, as the United States pulls troops out of Japan, 5,000 of them will be transferred to Guam.