Chloe Babauta, Pacific (Guam) Daily News
19 hours ago
Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this story misstated when the U.S. gained control of Guam.
HAGATNA, Guam — As North Korea threatened a ballistic missile strike on the U.S. territory of Guam, residents expressed concern Wednesday.
Tourists enjoy the beach in Guam's capital of Hagatna on July 14, 2017.
Mar-Vic Cagurangan, AFP/Getty Images
"The threat is pretty scary," said Graceful Fiden, 28, of Tumon, Guam. "It's going on further, so we should worry about it."
But, he said, "I believe in the military on Guam, together with the U.S."
North Korea's military said it is considering a missile launch aimed near the U.S. strategic military installations in Guam, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
More: North Korea threatens missile strike on Guam; Trump vows 'fire and fury'
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Yonhap reported that the North's strategic force in charge of the country's ballistic missiles issued a statement that it is seriously reviewing measures to send a strong message that it can neutralize the U.S. military bases in Guam that house nuclear bombers and other key assets, with its Hwasong-12 missiles.
The U.S. Air Force has said that members of the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed to Guam from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota are ready to “fight tonight” from Guam. During a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Monday, two B-1s were joined by Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s as well as Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16 fighter jets.
“These flights with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) demonstrate solidarity between Japan, ROK and the U.S. to defend against provocative and destabilizing actions in the Pacific theater,” according to a release from the Air Force.
The Washington Post, citing a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency report, said North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
In comments made Tuesday at the clubhouse of his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., President Trump warned North Korea that it "best not make any more threats to the United States."
President Trump talks about North Korea Aug. 8, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Evan Vucci, AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before," Trump said.
The offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense issued a news release Wednesday morning saying they were working with military officials to “continue to monitor the recent events surrounding North Korean and their threatening actions.”
“As of this morning, we have not changed our stance in confidence that the U.S. Department of Defense is monitoring this situation very closely and is maintaining a condition of readiness, daily,” stated George Charfauros, Homeland Security adviser.
“We will continue to keep the public updated on any changes or requests for action. For now, we advise the community to remain calm, remember that there are defenses in place for threats such as North Korea and to continue to remain prepared for all hazards.”
The release stated that there is no imminent threat to the safety of Guam's 160,000 residents and visitors of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
Gov. Eddie Calvo said he had spoken to Joint Region Marianas Cmdr. Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, who confirmed there was no immediate threat to Guam.
"My Homeland Security Advisor who is in communications with Homeland Security and Department of Defense notes that there is no change in threat level resulting from North Korea events," Calvo said in a statement.
"Additionally, I have reached out to the White House this morning," Calvo said. "An attack or threat to Guam is a threat or attack on the United States. They have said that America will be defended."
Guam has a long history as a strategic military location for the United States. The U.S. took the island from Spain in 1898 after the Spanish-American War, and a series of naval officers governed the island until 1941. Guam was invaded and occupied by the Japanese for 2-1/2 years during World War II, and was recaptured by American forces in 1944.
About one-third of the 210-square-mile island is occupied by the military. Andersen Air Force Base, at the northern end of the island, was a key base for B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War, and the Navy also has a base on the island. The military has plans to increase its presence on the island by relocating Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a statement that similar threats in 2013 led her to work for a THAAD battery to be permanently stationed on the island with the goal of intercepting and destroying ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.
“However these recent threats make it imperative for President Trump to work with the international community, especially with China and other stakeholders in the region, to de-escalate these tensions. The President’s tweet earlier today is concerning and unhelpful and does not lay out a clear strategy on how he will address the growing threats from North Korea. Kim Jung-Un’s reckless behavior cannot be tolerated, and I strongly urge the President to explore every avenue to peacefully respond to it and avoid further escalating this situation,” she said.
One mother told the Daily News she felt secure knowing four of her five sons are Army officers.
"I hear about (the threat), but I'm not worried," said Kathy Diaz, 56, of Maina. "Only because I have boys in the military. They said, 'Don't worry Mom, if anything happens, we'll let you know.' I have faith in the military."
Diaz said she has more trust in the military than the president.
"For some reason, I'm just having faith in God and what my boys tell me. You always have the head people, right? But you have the people below that work for us."
She said, "What my son has told me, between the (U.S.) military that's in Korea, and here on Guam and surrounding the Pacific, we should not worry."
Astright Villagomez, 50, of Mangilao said the latest threat from North Korea is scary.
“I just hope the military can protect us,” she said. She said she has family members serving in the military.
When asked about President Trump’s ability to protect the island, she answered: “That I don’t know. I’m not really, how do you say it? So certain about that.”
Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY. Follow Chloe Babauta on Twitter: @chloebabauta