Citing the potential for China to one day threaten Guam, the Navy admiral who heads up Indo-Pacific Command testified before Congress this week that the territory should add an Aegis Ashore missile defense facility, in order to deter potential attack by China.
Testifying this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Phil Davidson made the case for the installation of such a facility.
“Guam is a target today. It needs to be defended, and it needs to be prepared for the threats that will come in the future,” the admiral said in his testimony, as reported by Defense News. He went on to cite a propaganda video produced by China that shows its H-6 bomber force attacking Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base.
Guam, which is located in the Western Pacific Ocean, has been a U.S. territory since the aftermath of the Spanish-American War in 1899. Currently the home of 170,000 U.S. citizens and service members, Guam currently has a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. But Admiral Davidson testified that that system is insufficient in the face of current threats.
“It’s the key piece that we’re missing, that signals to the region that the U.S. is a reliable and committed security partner, that we are there to defend not only U.S. territory but our interests abroad,” Davidson said of the proposed Aegis Ashore defense.
The defense has a price tag of $1.6 billion, per the report, and Davidson calls it the main priority of the proposed Pacific Deterrence Initiative.
The first Aegis Ashore system was declared operational in Romania, and a second one is expected to come online in Poland in 2022. There has been some skepticism expressed, however, about how well the missile defense system actually works, and Japan decided last year to cancel its version of the system.
Admiral Davidson has been calling for an Aegis Ashore system in Guam since at least 2020, Breaking Defense reported last July.
“It’s something I’m engaging on now,” Davidson told reporters at the time. “I would like to see it be part of FY22 discussions and I continue to have this discussion within the department… the most important action we can take to rapidly and fully implement the National Defense Strategy, as a first step, is a 360-degree, persistent, integrated air-defense capability in Guam.”
It’s unclear how likely it is that Congress will go along with the request. According to Defense News, the admiral “didn’t face any direct challenges to the plans.”
Admiral Davidson, a four-star admiral, took command in the Pacific in May of 2018, succeeding Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.