Tag: Guam

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

North Korea threatens missile strike on Guam that will create an ‘enveloping fire’

North Korea said it is “carefully examining” plans to attack Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles, state-run media reported Wednesday.

The rogue nation’s statement follows President Donald Trump‘s comments hours before, during which he warned North Korea that any threats to the U.S. “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”

The North Korean army made the announcement in a statement distributed by its state-run news agency that the military is reviewing a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around the U.S. territory, located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,100 miles from North Korea.

The statement said the decision to review such plans is in response to a recent ICBM test.

There are 7,000 US military personnel on Guam.

The main base on the island is Andersen Air Force Base that is home to long-range B-1 bombers that have recently been used for “show of force” missions to South Korea following North Korea’s two ICBM missile launches.

A pair of B-1B Strategic Bombers based in Guam

Andersen Air Force Base is just one of the installations on Guam; Naval Base Guam also has a significant number of personnel.

Guam’s offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense said in a statement that its threat level remained unchanged, and that it will “continue to monitor the recent events surrounding North Korea and their threatening actions.”

Homeland Security adviser George Charfauros said in a statement, “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. 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.”

Charfauros is in regular contact with the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. He has not received any guidance that there is an imminent threat, Guam Homeland Security said.

Still, the speaker of the Guam Legislature told The Associated Press he hopes the island can defend itself in the event of a North Korean attack.

“We’re just praying that the United States and the … defense system we have here is sufficient enough to protect us,” Benjamin J. Cruz said.

Cruz said the threat is “very disconcerting,” adding, “It forces us to pause and to say a prayer for the safety of our people.”

Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, released a two-minute video message to the island’s residents, in which he said, “I want to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality.”

 

 

 

 

Royal Navy Merlins complete five-month stint aboard FS Mistral

FS Mistral, French Navy Landing Helicopter Dock Ship

A group of Royal Navy sailors and marines together with two Royal Navy Merlin Mk3 helicopters spent the past five months deployed aboard the French helicopter carrier FS Mistral during its Jeanne D’Arc mission.

FS Mistral, together with frigate FS Courbet, embarked Royal Navy personnel in March for a deployment that took the force as far east as Japan and Guam, as far south as the northern coast of Australia, with visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Djibouti.

Commenting on the deployment, UK’s armed forces minister Mark Lancaster said: “From fighting Daesh in the Middle East to jointly operating in Estonia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, our enduring defence partnership with France is stronger than ever as we work together to tackle global threats.

This deployment has demonstrated the ability of our world class Royal Navy and Royal Marines to operate alongside our French allies and international partners as Britain delivers on its commitment to global maritime security.”

Merlin Mk3 of the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), landing on the FS Mistral LHD Ship

Throughout the deployment, UK personnel worked closely with international partners to strengthen defence cooperation in the region. British troops participated in the first ever four-part maritime exercise involving France, Japan, the UK and US, where as part of a week-long practice assault, the two Merlins moved 330 troops from the four nations to and from the island of Tinian.

UK troops also met with the Vietnam People’s Navy in Ho Chi Minh City to compare national maritime operating procedures and exchange experiences, and during a port call to Egypt, British forces took part in a cross-decking exercise alongside French and Egyptian Armed Forces.

 

US sends pair of supersonic bombers in show of force after second ICBM test

Two Guam-based Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly over the Korean Peninsula, Sunday, July 30, 2017. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO.

TOKYO — Two Air Force supersonic bombers flew low over the Korean Peninsula Sunday in a show of force after North Korea test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile.

The exercise — part of a 10-hour mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets — was “in direct response to North Korea’s escalatory launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” a Pacific Air Forces statement said.

A suspected Hwasong-14 missile — the second ICBM North Korea has tested successfully so far this month — was fired late Friday from Mupyong-ni in the country’s far northwest and splashed down into the Sea of Japan about 620 miles east of the launch site, a Pentagon statement said.

The Guam-based B-1B Lancers first flew into Japanese airspace and were joined by two Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets, the statement said. The bombers then flew over the Korean Peninsula and were met by four South Korean F-15s. After a low pass over Osan Air Base, the pair returned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The aircrews took part in “intercept and formation” training throughout the mission, the statement said.
A similar drill took place after North Korea launched its first ICBM on July 4, though that one involved the Lancers firing inert weapons at a range in South Korea.

The Air Force said the missions show solidarity with its allies South Korea and Japan, where the U.S. has a combined force of about 80,000 servicemembers.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said in the statement. “Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Source: Stars and Stripes.