WASHINGTON (Agencies): In a strategic move to bolster defenses against potential threats from China and North Korea, the U.S. has transformed a former military housing area near the Marine Corps’ newest base into a missile defense facility equipped with six Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers. The South Finegayan neighborhood, now known as Site Excalibur, is the most developed among the various missile defense facilities planned for Guam.

Task Force Talon, a battalion-sized unit stationed in Guam, has deployed the THAAD launchers along with radar, command, and communications gear. The relocation to Site Excalibur provides additional space, allowing for the deployment of all six THAAD launchers and reducing conflicts with aircraft.

Col. Jonathan Stafford, the commander of Task Force Talon, emphasized the austere nature of the base, reminiscent of those occupied by U.S. troops in combat zones. Site Excalibur is a pivotal step in constructing a comprehensive 360-degree missile defense system in Guam, driven by perceived threats from adversaries like China and North Korea, covering various missile types.

The Missile Defense Agency anticipates that the entire system, comprising up to 20 sites across the island, will be operational by 2027. Guam has gained heightened significance in Pentagon strategy, serving as a hub for projecting power and defending the region. Despite increasing operational “spokes” in the region, Guam remains a substantial and indispensable hub.

Guam’s defense infrastructure includes the Army’s THAAD ballistic missile defense system and the Navy’s Aegis system off the coast. The relocation of the THAAD system underscores Guam’s strategic role, providing expanded operating space and freeing up valuable Air Force real estate at Andersen Air Force Base.

The move is in response to emerging threats posed by hypersonic and ballistic missiles. Guam, the closest U.S. territory to the contested South China Sea, continues to be a linchpin in countering China’s military capabilities and ambitions. The Pentagon is making substantial investments in diversifying its forces, capitalizing on new basing agreements with allies, and enhancing Guam’s importance as a logistical hub for naval operations.

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