North Korean tensions put Americans on tiny Guam in crosshairs

Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews last week. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews last week. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

Earlier this week, North Korea said that it would fire ballistic missiles in the direction of Guam sometime in mid-August as a rehearsal of war with the US.

President Donald Trump has issued fresh threats of swift and forceful retaliation against nuclear North Korea, declaring the USA military "locked and loaded" and warning that the communist country's leader "will regret it fast" if he takes any action against US territories or allies.

"The KPA Strategic Force will finally complete the plan until mid-August and report it to the commander-in-chief (Kim Jong-un) and wait for his order", the General added.

The governor of Guam said on Wednesday (Aug 9) North Korea's warning of a possible missile strike on the US Pacific territory was no threat and the island was prepared for "any eventuality", with defences strategically placed to protect its people. Most recently, in March 2013, North Korean military officials made a statement about Andersen Air Force Base being within "striking range".

Cruz calls the threat "very disconcerting", saying, "It forces us to pause and to say a prayer for the safety of our people".

Air Force B-1B Lancer Bombers arrived on the island of Guam Friday morning. US bombers have flown over the Korean Peninsula several times to show American strength after Pyongyang's missile tests.

The government has been alarmed by the escalating rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea as the hermit state continues to provoke Washington, Tokyo and the United Nations with its steadily advancing nuclear weapons and missile programs.

American and South Korean officials said they would move forward with large-scale military exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war.

Today, Naval Base Guam is the home port for four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and two submarine tenders.

USA officials say they will be going ahead with long-scheduled military exercises with South Korea.

It's not the first time North Korea has threatened Guam, which is a crucial, strategic hub for US forces in the Pacific.

"To some extent, it's a bluff on the part of North Korea; an attempt to save face and avert the American blow through global rhetoric", he said. Their location in a US territory means its military is just hours from potential flashpoints in the western Pacific.

"I'm a religious person", said Martha Bernard.

Guam is about 2,100 miles southeast of Pyongyang, and 3,800 miles west of Honolulu.

In 2016, Japan deployed PAC-3 batteries to the islands of Miyako and Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture before North Korea launched what it claimed was a satellite. President William McKinley ordered Guam to be ruled by the U.S. Navy.

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.

It is also a permanent home to a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather "just in case".

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