Why Is North Korea So Fixated on Guam?

From Popular Mechanics

North Korea has yet again threatened to attack the island of Guam after a pair of U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers was sent to the Pacific island. Why is North Korea so infatuated with tiny Guam? The answer has to do with Guam’s symbolism as an American territory and its usefulness in any war against North Korea.

In response to the B-1B bomber deployment, North Korea’s KCNA state news network stated, “The KPA (Korean People’s Army) Strategic Force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam … in order to contain the U.S. major military bases on Guam, including the Anderson Air Force Base.” The KPA Strategic Force is the part of the North Korean People’s Army responsible for ballistic missiles, including those that could theoretically hit Guam.

Guam is a tiny island in the Marianas chain located the western Pacific, approximately 210 square miles, or approximately nine times larger than Manhattan and five times larger than San Francisco. It has a population of 162,000, most of which are U.S. citizens by virtue of Guam being a U.S. territory. It is approximately 5,852 miles from San Francisco, but only 2,118 miles from Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

That leads to the first reason why Guam is so often in North Korea’s crosshairs: It is accessible while the rest of America is not. Guam is within striking range of intermediate range ballistic missiles, which are shorter range and easier to develop than intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Striking Guam is a much more achievable goal, but as North Korea’s ICBM becomes operational, you can be sure the rest of the United States will also regularly receive blustery threats.

The second reason North Korea obsesses over Guam is the island is a spear pointed at the Korean People’s Army and the Kim regime. Guam features some of the largest, most sophisticated military bases outside the continental United States, and the island territory would be critical in any military action taken against North Korea.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis

Andersen Air Force Base is one of these key bases. The most important U.S. air base west of Hawaii, Andersen is the only one in the Western Pacific that can permanently base U.S. heavy strategic bombers, including B-1B, B-2, and B-52 bombers. These bombers, which North Korea refers to as “the air pirates of Guam,” are based on a rotational basis at…

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