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12 23Thu04242014

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Back Local News NKorea missiles positioned, but military confident in THAAD

NKorea missiles positioned, but military confident in THAAD

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Gov. Calvo appears on CNN

ON FRIDAY, during a live interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Gov. Eddie Calvo said while the island community is not panicking, it is concerned about threats of rocket attacks coming from North Korea. He pointed out Guam’s proximity to North Korea and the occupation of Guam during World War II made it the only organized U.S. community that has been invaded and occupied by an enemy force since the War of 1812.

“There is first-person and secondhand accounts of what happens when America lets down in their vigilance and American land and American people are not protected,” he said. “So we are deeply concerned.” He also acknowledged that “a defensive umbrella” has been set up across the Pacific in addition to the announced deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, ballistic missile defense system.

“But the concern that we have is that all you need is that one lucky shot,” he said. The interview was conducted for the network’s Erin Burnett Outfront program.

Tapper also asked about reports that island residents were keeping windows closed and stockpiling canned goods in anticipation of an attack. The reports were likely anecdotal, Calvo said, noting that because of its location in typhoon alley, residents were familiar with emergency preparations and may well be taking similar precautions. “But aside from that, I do not believe and I have not heard any evidence of some sort of panic from the community,” he said.

Moved

Also on Friday, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that North Korea had moved two “Musudan” medium-range missiles to a facility near its east coast and loaded them onto mobile launchers. The report came from South Korean military officials, according to Yonhap. The move prompted the U.S. to deploy the THAAD system to Guam, the report said. “The missile can fly 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers and is capable of hitting the U.S. base in Guam in the Pacific Ocean,” according to the report. It had been previously reported that one Musudan missile had been relocated to the east coast facility.

In an April 4 article, Voice of America reported that the United States expects North Korea to launch one of its missiles “in the coming days.” It said Department of Defense officials told it DOD is preparing for a North Korean missile launch and is taking Pyongyang's threats seriously.

At Fort Bliss, Texas, Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, said Friday during a news conference that the soldiers there preparing for the THAAD missile system deployment were ready for their mission, according to an article from the American Forces Press Service. “We don’t know the duration of the deployment, but what we do know is that they are ready,” Pittard said. He also noted his full confidence in the ability of U.S. air defense systems to protect against North Korean missiles.

All three of the Army’s THAAD batteries, part of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, are based at Fort Bliss. The THAAD system is a land-based missile defense system that includes a truck-mounted launcher, a complement of interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar and an integrated fire control system.

The THAAD system will work in with other missile defense systems in the region to provide multi-tiered protection, Pittard explained. Aegis cruisers and other air defense systems will provide lower-level coverage. Patriot missiles and other systems will provide defenses at slightly higher altitudes, according to the AFP article.

The THAAD system operates at the next level, capable of shooting down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase. The THAAD interceptors use a “hit-to-kill approach,” relying on the kinetic energy of the impact to destroy the incoming missile.

These layered air defenses could take out a missile launched by North Korea “fairly quickly,” Pittard said.

Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne, commanding officer of Joint Region Marianas, expressed his confidence in the THAAD deployment as well. "The Department of Defense is fully capable to defend Guam and its territories from any ballistic missile attack from North Korea. This deployment will strengthen defense capabilities for American citizens and U.S. forces stationed here," he said.

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