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New missile flight testing operations demonstrate the complex relations between Guam and the United States military

by | Jul 3, 2024 | Federal Government, Guam, Military | 0 comments

Lieutenant Governor Joshua Tenorio (D) of Guam expressed his concern for two imminent missile defense testing operations proposed to be carried out annually by Andersen Air Force Base in a recent letter to Lieutenant General Heath Collins, director of the Missile Defense Agency. 

Tenorio argued that communities surrounding the base are being denied adequate opportunity to weigh in on the military report indicating there would be no notable environmental impacts from the operation. At the moment, the planning period for communal weigh-in on the operation ranges from June 3 to July 2; however, Tenorio suggests that the planning period be extended to August 31. Despite a lack of public information on the exact time for these launches, Tenorio has raised concerns over the possible ramifications the operation may have on the territory. The increase in the planning and feedback period is crucial because of the wide array of impacts the testing could have for Guam. 

Tenorio claims that the testing could significantly interrupt the livelihood of communities, requiring residents in the surrounding districts to be relocated. In addition, Tenorio was concerned about the implications that the tests might negatively impact the environment and economy. In his letter to Collins, Tenorio highlighted these concerns, saying “The proposed activities have the potential to significantly impact our environment, our economy, and the daily lives of our residents. I am most especially concerned about any impacts on land owners, including the possibility of the need to evacuate their properties during testing.” While the exact negative impacts on the environment may be unknown, Tenorio’s request for an extension of review time could allow experts to evaluate the potential environmental repercussions. 

Separately, Speaker Therese Terlaje (D) made a similar appeal to Collins, writing, “If the MDA truly seeks sufficient public engagement from Guam’s community, then the current 30-day public comment period will prove ineffective.” Terlaje continued expressing her concerns about the short planning period, writing, “These two actions will give Guam’s community the opportunity to… voice concerns about its proposed activities and potential impacts.”

Tenorio, in his appeal for an extended comment period, ahead of the testing, claims time is needed, “to review the assessment thoroughly, consult relevant experts, and engage in meaningful discussions with our community stakeholders.” Additionally, Tenorio made it clear at the end of his letter that the residents of Guam deserve adequate time to submit their opinions of the project.

The announcement of the approved forthcoming military exercise comes after Tenorio’s visit to the Marine Corps Installations Pacific (MCIPAC) on Okinawa last month to discuss plans to reallocate 5,000 stationed Marines back to Guam. After communicating with multiple top military officials and visiting Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, Tenorio argued that the Marines are being brought in to increase economic collaboration between the residents of Guam and the US military. The outlined initiatives include the integration of Guam’s local community college, the building of greater infrastructure to support the additional troops, and greater involvement with Guam’s civilian workforce. Tenorio commented on the experience, claiming, “It provided a platform to address Guam’s concerns and collaborate with the Department of Defense to ensure a seamless relocation process, maximizing the benefits for the people of Guam.” 

The ongoing militarization of Guam and growing military presence on the island presents a mixed outlook for the island, as Guamanian officials balance economic benefits with public health and safety concerns.



Harper Godsey

Harper Godsey

Harper Godsey is a student at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. He is passionate about policy, public service, understanding history in order to change the future, and believes in global approaches to solving the most pressing contemporary issues. As the Captain of his debate team, he is deeply invested in mentorship and research on global and national affairs. When he is not on the debate stage, Godsey can be found hiking Colorado’s 14ers, playing chess, serving as an Outdoor Lab Leader where he educates youth on the history and ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains, and travelling with family. He is a Federal Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.


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