THAAD Going to Guam

The Defense Department on Wednesday announced that it would deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system to Guam in the coming weeks “as a precautionary move” to strengthen the US regional defense posture against North Korean ballistic missile threats. The Army-owned, land-based missile defense system will strengthen defenses of the US territory, said DOD’s April 3 release. Guam hosts a broad array of American military forces, including a large air presence at Andersen Air Force Base. THAAD comprises a truck-mounted missile launcher, complement of anti-missile missiles, tracking radar, and integrated fire control system. The North Koreans have unleashed a torrent of bellicose statements in recent weeks, including threats to launch missiles against US bases on Guam and Hawaii. DOD’s announcement came one day after Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters that the United States already had “a range of assets” in the Asia-Pacific region, including two Navy ships, “poised to respond to any missile threats to our allies or our territory” emanating from North Korea. (See also North Korea Announces Nuclear Reactor Restart and North Korean Threats and Nuclear Renewal.)