THAAD first was deployed on Guam around April 2013 following threats from North Korea.
A missile attack from North Korea is not even on the Top 10 list of dangers for Guam, according to Col. George Charfauros, Guam Homeland Security adviser.
On Tuesday, a panel of local officials shared their agencies’ protocols for a nuclear attack from North Korea during a University of Guam forum organized by the School of Business and Public Administration’s Problems in Criminal Justice class.
Charfauros reiterated his confidence in Guam’s defense systems being more than capable of stopping a missile from hitting the island. More notably, he said, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un wouldn’t authorize such a strike in the first place.
“Kim Jong Un is a sane person. He’s not crazy at all. He knows what he’s doing,” Charfauros said.
Kim knows he can’t launch an attack on Guam because he doesn’t have the resources, Charfauros said. Even if Kim did, there are several layers to Guam’s military defense, other than the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, that can intercept the threat, Charfauros said.
Charfauros said he’s more concerned about cyber attacks and natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons.
In the event a missile is launched toward Guam, the first thing police personnel would do is move away from the island’s military bases, according to the acting police commander.
“This is under the assumption that if a North Korea attack were to happen, it would be at Andersen Air Force Base,” said Guam Police Department acting Police Commander Maj. Manny Chong. He also said Naval Base Guam could be a possible target.
Immediately after an attack, Chong said, the first priority for GPD is the accountability of personnel, equipment and buildings. Officers in Yigo would move south to Tamuning, while officers in Agat would relocate to the eastern part of the island. The precincts have designated rally points for officers to meet up to ensure consistent communication.
“If an officer doesn’t show up, we have to assume he’s dead,” Chong said.
Once the officers are accounted for, Chong said GPD’s mission turns into search and rescue, and assistance with collateral damage. Officers also would go out and tend to the wounded, he said.
These are guidelines that are set in paper, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be fully carried out if the real situation occurs. When people hear of a missile attack, they’ll want to be with their families and that will cause traffic congestion all over the island, Chong said.
“The reality is that there’s going to be chaos, and nobody can prepare for that,” he said.
Joanne Brown, general manager of Port Authority of Guam, said her personnel are trained to respond to such circumstances, but that’s not the same as responding when the actual impact occurs.
“What would you do? What would your priorities be?” she asked.
She also shared her concerns of the aftermath of a missile attack, including how residents would be able to protect themselves from radiation over a long period of time, and how the allies of North Korea would react to an attack on Guam.
Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services Emergency Preparedness Manager Patrick Lujan said the department is working on a radiation response plan for Guam and is requesting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for assistance.
If radiation spreads throughout the island, it would be difficult to gain off-island assistance for fear of exposure, Lujan said. Residents have to be prepared and informed on how to avoid or get rid of the exposure.
“We have to plan on our own as individuals in that time,” he said. “Each and every one of us would need to have a preparedness plan.”
The Pacific Daily News livestreamed the UOG forum. Watch a portion of it below.
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