“I’m a regular person. And I wanted to take my regular-person, normal, everyday American values, which is, we love our country. We believe our hard-earned tax dollars should just go for America, not for what? China, Russia, the Middle East, Guam, whatever, wherever,” she said in late February.
Last week, Nicholas promised to gift her cookies, and the office of Guam’s governor, Lourdes Aflague Leon Guerrero, offered books on the history of the territory.
“Congresswoman Greene is a new member, and we will be paying a visit to her and delivering delicious Chamorro Chip Cookies as part of our ongoing outreach to new members to introduce them to our wonderful island of Guam,” Nicholas told The Guam Daily Post.
On Monday, Nicholas delivered on that promise but the Congresswoman was not at her office when they visited, according to a video uploaded by The Hill.
They were met by an aide who thanked them.
“Thank you guys so much for all that you do. We really appreciate it. Thank you guys for keeping us safe,” the aide said.
The top US commander in the Indo-Pacific pressed lawmakers on Tuesday to support the fielding of additional air-and-missile defense capabilities for Guam given China’s growing ability to threaten the important territory.
“Guam is a target today,” US Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It needs to be defended, and it needs to be prepared for the threats that will come in the future.”
“Guam is not just a place that we believe that we can fight from, as we have for many decades,” he said, telling the Senate panel that “we are going to have to fight for it.”
The admiral, who has made the defense of Guam a top priority, said that this strategic US territory would benefit from Aegis Ashore. He argued that the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system in place to defend Guam is incapable “of meeting the current trajectory of threats from China.”
Davidson called attention to a Chinese propaganda video that showed an H-6 bomber strike on Andersen Air Force Base on Guam as evidence of China’s strategic thinking. The video was mocked for shamelessly ripping footage from Hollywood films like ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”
The Pentagon’s most recent China military power report noted that Chinese “H-6K bomber flights into the western Pacific Ocean demonstrate China’s ability to range Guam with air-launched [land-attack cruise missiles]” while the DF-26 mid-range missile nicknamed the “Guam Express” is “capable of conducting precision conventional or nuclear strikes against ground targets, which could include US bases on Guam.”
Davidson said that Guam would be better to prepared to defend against these threats with Aegis Ashore, an air-and-missile defense system based on the system the US Navy has installed on a number of its guided-missile destroyers and cruisers.
Davidson said Tuesday that America has “to demonstrate that any ambition China might have and any threat it might put forth toward Guam would come at cost.”
“That would be really by the collection of not only this defensive capability, which I think is so critical because it prevents a cheap shot,” but also other capabilities “to let China know that the cost of what they seek to do are too high and give them doubt in their success,” he said.
The admiral told lawmakers that putting Aegis Ashore on Guam would show China that “it “can’t knock Guam out with an easy shot and keep us out of the fight to present a fait accompli” in a regional crisis, such as a conflict over Taiwan.
Davidson’s Aegis Ashore proposal is part of the broader Pacific Defense Initiative expected to require an estimated $4.6 billion in defense funds in fiscal year 2022 and $27 billion over the next five years as the Pentagon makes competition with China a priority.
Department of Defense leadership has repeatedly identified China as the “pacing threat,” and the Biden administration has singled China out as America’s most challenging competitor.
In this competition, Guam is a vital territorial holding. Not only is it home to more than 170,000 US citizens and service members, but it also offers access to a deepwater port, fuel and munition storage, and an airfield that for US power projection. A submarine squadron and a ship that performs maintenance on them are based there.
“America’s day begins in Guam, and it is not only a location we must fight-from, but one we must also fight-for given the threats we face in the near term and the foreseeable future,” Davidson told lawmakers Tuesday.
The US Air Force’s efforts to disperse its forces have gained new urgency as the Chinese military grows in size and reach, but operating from far-flung, often austere airfields creates new logistical challenges. To overcome them, the service is asking its airmen take on new tasks.
The Air Force has spent more time refining a concept known as Agile Combat Employment, which pairs bases like Anderson, or hubs, with remote airfields, called spokes. To support operations at those spokes, the service is looking to “multi-capable airmen,” who have been trained do tasks outside their assigned specialties.
Both concepts were on display during Cope North 21, an exercise conducted with Japanese and Australian forces in the Pacific between February 3 and February 19.
“Every year, we try to expand the envelope of what we can do,” Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, head of US Pacific Air Forces, said of Cope North during the Air Force Association air-warfare symposium last week.
During the exercise, F-35s from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska flew to Guam. During the drills, the F-35s landed in the island nation of Palau, refueled without shutting down their engines, and, after less than an hour, took off again to continue training, Wilsbach said.
That demonstrated “the ability to get back and forth to Palau, which is a very long distance, and the ability to refuel on the ground,” which requires multi-capable airmen, Wilsbach added.
“One of the things that we were doing at Cope North was expanding this notion of multi-capable airman,” Wilsbach said. “We train airman in generally one specific area, like, for example, a security forces member … but what if a security forces member could also refuel an aircraft or reload an aircraft or work on communications gear at those outstations?”
Pacific Air Forces is implementing a syllabus to teach airmen skills from outside their assigned career fields, Wilsbach said. “This gets us more capability with fewer people, which reduces the logistics requirements at some of those spoke locations.”
In the days after Cope North, the 18th Wing, the host unit at Kadena Air Force Base in Japan, held its first multi-capable airman training course.
“Prior to this – or even historically – some airmen made it through their whole career without really touching an aircraft,” Senior Master Sgt. Frank Uecker, ACE superintendent for the 18th Wing, said in a release.
The service’s Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, is also trying to spread lessons from airmen who have led development of ACE among the maintenance, munitions, and logistics experts it trains.
What the school “is really trying to codify is what is the supply chain, what’s the logistics look like for that, what capabilities do you need in a multi-capable airman to be able to minimize the footprint and stay agile,” 57th Wing commander Brig. Gen. Michael Drowley, who oversees the school, said last month.
“Right now, they’re really in the tabletop exercise, red-teaming aspect of looking at some of those operations and what the requirements would be and then what do they need to train their instructors to be able to do, so that way [instructors] can go back out to the units and now provide that training,” Drowley added.
The new tasks for airmen aren’t limited to the maintenance and logistical support. They may also have to help defend the base from missiles, enemy aircraft, and other incoming threats.
“We’re looking at acquiring some additional light capability to go out primarily to the spokes, because our hubs are pretty well protected with things like” Patriot missiles and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon system, Wilsbach said.
“Who’s at the base and what they can do to help you defend the base goes back to that multi-capable airman,” Wilsbach added. “There will be expectations that they will be able to add to the defense of the base, regardless of whether they’re a security forces member or not. They’ve got to be able to pick up a weapon that can help defend that location until you leave or until such time as the threat has been abated.”
On October 1, 2020, the United States Marine Corps activated its first new base since 1952.
Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz will host roughly 5,000 Marines of III Marine Expeditionary Force on the island of Guam. The Marines will relocate from their current station in Okinawa, Japan, over the next five years. 1,300 Marines will be permanently stationed at Camp Blaz while the remaining 3,700 Marines will serve as a rotational force.
The new Marine Corps strategy in the Pacific calls for a smaller, more agile and lethal force.
“We have to spread out,” said the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger. “We have to factor in Guam.” Camp Blaz will allow the United States to distribute its premiere amphibious fighting force across the Pacific. Operating from Guam, the Marine Corps will be able to respond to a wider array of aggressive actions from China.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) is officially the largest navy in the world. While the United States more than doubles the PLAN in tonnage and outclasses it in quality, the threat of numbers cannot be ignored.
Camp Blaz is named for the late Brig. Gen. Vicente Tomas Garrido Blaz, the first Chamorro Marine to reach the rank of general officer. Blaz was born on Guam on February 14, 1928 and lived through the Japanese occupation of the island during WWII. After the war, he attended the University of Notre Dame on a scholarship and commissioned as a Marine officer in 1951.
Over his 29 years of service, Blaz earned the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star Medal with a Combat “V” for valor, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross for his service in Vietnam.
Following his retirement from the Corps in 1980, Blaz worked as a professor at the University of Guam. In 1984, he was elected to the House of Representatives as the delegate from Guam. He served in Congress until 1983 when he retired. Blaz died in 2014 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The new base that bears this Marine’s name solidifies the union between the Corps and the people of Guam.
“As the Marine Corps presence on Guam grows, I am confident that we will live up to our motto of honor, courage, and commitment,” said Col. Bradley M. Magrath, Camp Blaz’s first base commander. “We will honor the history of the island of Guam, we will have the courage to defend it, and we will remain committed to preserving its cultural and environmental resources.”
The Marine Corps plans to hold a formal activation ceremony in spring 2021.