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Pacific News Minute: Pentagon affirms military defense of Guam

North korea missile 013122
Ahn Young-joon/AP
FILE - People watch a TV showing images of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The Department of Defense has declared China as the “most consequential strategic competitor” of the United States in the Indo-Pacific. That’s part of a new report that also includes a message about the security of Guam.

The Pentagon said, “An attack on Guam or any other U.S. territory by any adversary will be considered a direct attack on the United States.”

That’s part of the Defense Department’s 2022 Missile Defense Review, released last Thursday. The report said any such attack “will be met with an appropriate response.”

The defense of Guam continues to be part of budget discussions in Washington — through the Missile Defense Agency — which is part of the Pentagon.

The Pacific Island Times reports Indo-Pacific Command has been urging increased funding and a faster timetable for a $1 billion integrated missile defense system on the island.

The discussions come as China is accelerating the modernization and expansion of its nuclear capabilities. Chinese media have called The People’s Liberation Army’s first conventionally-armed ballistic missile the “Guam Killer” or “Guam Express.”

The Defense Department said its new strategy is focused "around our pacing challenge, even as we manage the other threats of our swiftly changing world.”

On the same day the Missile Defense Review was released, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast.

Guam Homeland Security Advisor Samantha Brennan said there was no immediate threat to the Mariana Islands from the reported launch.

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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