A temporary mission could instead become more of a long-term engagement. That’s if the US Army moves forward with the permanent stationing of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery. It was initially deployed to Guam in response to threats from North Korea, but now the army wants to provide long-term protection from the threat of ballistic missile attacks for Guam and United States forces.
Last month a pair of public meetings was held on the environmental assessment for the permanent stationing of the THAAD on Guam. Following the July 9 comment period deadline, the Army is now preparing the final EA along with the finding of no significant impact. According to 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command Public Affairs Officer Major Troy Frey, the Army received 12 comments on the proposal with over 900 visitors to the THAAD website. Of the comments, he says none were negative but instead supportive, such as one that read “All the people of Guam should support your desire to set up a permanent THAAD station. I personally believe that your ability to successfully defend Guam will be far better with soldiers and their families also permanently on-island.”
The proposal analyzes two alternatives with permanent troops and the other alternative with troops on rotation. Military officials estimated about 100 troops and their families to move to Guam if the process is approved. Meanwhile, other comments received include one from a native of Guam and a current Army active duty service member. It reads, “This would allow for an immediate response and action to defend against an actual missile launched at the island from North Korea and other countries who currently have or may have the capability in the future.”
Major Frey says the long-term placement and operation of the THAAD battery in Guam will provide a proven ground-based ballistic missile defense capability in the region.
As for the current timeline, the Army notes the preferred alternative would see site improvement projects to begin sometime this year and completed by the end of 2016.