U.S. Military Shows Off Guam Missile Defense Facility To South Korea Delegation

Bordallo says THAAD helps people in Guam ‘sleep well’: Koreans skeptical

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 19, 2016) – Guam can sleep well at night knowing that a missile shield is stationed permanently on the island, said Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo.

But some residents of South Korea, which is about to get a similar missile defense system through the U.S. military, aren't convinced it's a good idea.

Bordallo on Tuesday spoke to a South Korean delegation, led by the country’s Ministry of Defense Deputy Minister of Policy Jeh Seung Yoo, who visited to look at Guam’s missile shield, called the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense ballistic missile defense battery.

The United States and South Korea recently announced they’ve agreed to station a similar missile shield in South Korea, in light of North Korea's threats, but South Koreans’ response to the decision has been mixed.

Half of South Koreans surveyed by Gallup Poll last week support the THAAD deployment, but about 39 percent oppose it, according to Yonhap news agency.

On Friday, anti-THAAD protesters hurled eggs and water bottles at South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn, The Associated Press reported.

To demonstrate to South Koreans there’s a community that, in Bordallo’s words, doesn’t have a problem with a THAAD presence, the Pentagon allowed a group of South Korean news organizations to gain access to the THAAD site at Guam's Andersen Air Force Base Monday.

Guam news organizations haven’t been allowed the same opportunity, but Bordallo at the press conference said she will make sure the military will give similar access to Guam-based journalists.

The South Korean deputy defense minister sat at the press conference table with Bordallo at Joint Region Marianas' command on Nimitz Hill, but said his government didn’t authorize him to speak at the event.

South Korean media members who made up the bulk of the delegation asked Bordallo how the Guam community has responded to the THAAD presence here.

They also asked Bordallo if Guam is concerned about the noise and radiation emissions from the missile defense system’s radars.

Bordallo said the South Korean delegation was shown “readings that were well below” what’s considered harmful electromagnetic radiation emissions.

A June 2015 draft Environmental Impact Statement on the THAAD presence in Guam states the electromagnetic radiation emissions from the THAAD radars’ “impacts to public health and safety … would be less than significant.”

The system’s radars would be pointed to the sky, and an airspace exclusion zone has been established, according to the study.

Exposure durations of birds and bats flying within the scanning area of a radar system in scanning mode would be less than 0.02 seconds, far short of the duration needed to be exposed to a harmful level of electromagnetic radiation emissions, according to the study.

Bordallo said as far as she knows, no one has opposed the THAAD presence in Guam, in part because the local community is aware of the need for some type of missile shield in light of North Korea’s threats to launch missiles specifically toward Guam.

The THAAD system in Guam is located away from public view, at the end of a decommissioned airstrip on North West Field within the fenced area of Andersen Air Force Base, according to the study.

“This has broad support from our Guam community,” Bordallo told reporters with South Korean media.

In April 2013, the Pentagon sent the THAAD ballistic missile defense launchers to Guam, along with about 200 troops from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, in response to what a Defense Department report called “an immediate and emergent threat of a missile attack from North Korea.”

The Defense Department announced last year that the THAAD presence in Guam would be permanent.

“Due to the continuation of existing and emerging missile threats by potentially hostile states, the Department of Defense has determined a need for the enduring presence of a THAAD battery on Guam,” according to a June 2015 environmental assessment of the THAAD presence in Guam.

The THAAD battery system in Guam was supposed to be on a "rotational" basis, but Bordallo said she asked the Secretary of Defense for the THAAD "to be a permanent fixture in Guam."

Bordallo said the placement of the THAAD on the island “has had no impact on our tourism industry.”

South Korea is Guam’s second-largest source of tourists.

“It’s located in an isolated area that people are unable to access and knowledge of its presence in Guam has not impacted our tourism market,” she said.

Pacific Daily News
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