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Military may need more land and air space for Guam missile defense system

Updated: May 8, 2023

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

The Department of the Navy will consider expanding its footprint to meet the strategic requirements of building the multiple components of the enhanced integrated air and missile defense system on Guam, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

The federal government owns about 49,000 acres of land on Guam, roughly a third of the island.

“The MDA and Army need to strategically locate and integrate the system components at multiple sites around Guam,” the MDA stated in its notice of intent posted on the Federal Register.

“In the event where DoD property is not available to strategically locate the components on DoD properties or where buffer and safety zone arcs encroach on non-federal properties, acquisition of appropriate real estate interests on non-federal property may be needed in a few areas. Site selection is evolving and additional sites may be considered,” the notice stated.

These proposed components include missile defense radars and sensors, missile interceptor launchers, and command and control systems.

MDA said it also anticipates the need for airspace modification at sites where radars would be located. Airspace issues would be coordinated with the FAA.

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"The purpose of the EIAMD is to support the defense of Guam from cruise, ballistic and hypersonic missile threats," the MDA said.

The architecture is targeted for completion by 2026.


The missile defense architecture involves the deployment and operation of a combination of components from the MDA, Army and Navy that would be integrated for air and missile defense.”

The construction of the missile defense architecture will entail peripheral projects such as support facilities and infrastructure including power plants, fuel storage facilities, water storage facilities, family housing, fire stations and dining facilities.

The MDA is it is coordinating with Army, Navy, Air Force and the Federal Aviation Authority to prepare an environmental impact study to evaluate the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed action.


“The MDA and Army have conducted extensive siting studies to confirm alternative site selection, optimize system performance, and optimize facility planning and design. The proposed EIAMD components, support facilities and infrastructure, and life support facilities would be distributed across the candidate sites,” MDA said.

The EIS will cover airspace, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, environmental justice and protection of children, geological resources, public health and safety, infrastructure and utilities, land use, noise and vibration, socioeconomics, transportation, recreation, visual resources, and water resources.

“The analysis will include an evaluation of direct and indirect impacts, and will account for cumulative impacts from other relevant activities in the area of Guam,” the MDA said.


"Within the context of homeland defense, Guam is a key strategic location for sustaining and maintaining U.S. influence, deterring adversaries, responding to crises, and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific," MDA said, "An attack on Guam would be considered a direct attack on the United States and would be met with an appropriate response."

While current U.S. forces are capable of defending Guam against regional ballistic missile threats, the MDA said regional missile threats continue to increase and advance technologically.

"The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has identified a requirement for a 360-degree EIAMD capability on Guam as soon as possible to address the rapid evolution of adversary missile threats," MDA said.

During his April 18 testimony before the House Armed Forces Committee, Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command said the Guam defense system is the command's top homeland defense priority.

"Delivering advanced warfighting capabilities that outpace our challengers immediately improves our lethality and enhances our deterrence mission," he said, adding that his vision for the future includes offensive fires as well as robust theater logistics.

"Capabilities that enhance our command and control decision superiority in the near term are of equal importance," Aquilino said.

"We must maintain the ability to safely operate in contested space, sustain our target quality, real-time battlespace awareness, and deliver advanced multi-domain joint fires munitions utilizing a Joint Fires Network while integrating our allies and partners," he added.

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