As US-China tensions continue over Taiwan’s independence, economic competitiveness, and defense issues, the US military is building up its presence in Guam. Guam is considered vulnerable, leading the federal government to prepare for further militarization. The island already hosts Andersen Air Force Base, Naval Base Guam, and Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz. Delegates from Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa have all pushed for Congress to play a bigger role in protecting the American presence in the Pacific, leading to the establishment of the Indo-Pacific Task Force.
The US believes China would rely on missile strikes on Guam to prevent the military from responding to an invasion of Taiwan. Guam strategically provides a springboard for the military while also remaining far enough from mainland China. In 2020, China released a video of a simulated attack against an air base exactly similar to Andersen, also developing a ballistic missile known as the “Guam Killer.”
The US is increasing cooperation with Pacific countries, relying more and more on Guam’s military presence and infrastructure. The US Air Force has prepared to expand Andersen and build new infrastructure to house fighter jets from the Singapore Air Force. Additionally, the Missile Defense Agency is investing $801 million of the 2024 budget to build up missile defenses on the island. Missle launchers have already been installed near Camp Blaz, with the military planning to construct 20 sites in Guam by 2027. About 5,000 Marines will also transition from Okinawa, Japan, to Camp Blaz. Still, the military is facing technology, construction, and logistical delays, which could leave Guam vulnerable.
Beyond defense infrastructure, the federal government is building up Guam’s digital defenses and cybersecurity. Guam faced cyber attacks by China against the island’s network and the digital infrastructure of the military bases last year. In response, the National Guard has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to discuss additional measures. Guam is at the forefront of American cybersecurity concerns because several underwater cables near Guam connect the United States to the global network.
Delegate James Moylan (R) of Guam recently testified in a congressional hearing related to illegal immigration but echoed many concerns about rising tensions with China concerning the territory.
Moylan said, “When in conflict with China, if harnessed correctly, Guam could be America’s greatest asset in deterring Chinese aggression before it reaches the shores of our country. But without adequate attention and proportional response to threats to Guam, our shared interests will fester into shared complications. ”Guam is viewed as the “forward edge” and the “tip of the spear” of the American military. As tensions between the US and China deepen and both countries attempt to exert their influence over the Pacific, Guam could play a crucial role in American defense.