Governor orders better communication with feds in light of rocket controversy

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has instructed the Homeland Security Advisor to help close those gaps in the future "because the safety of the community is our priority."
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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said she is taking steps to bridge the communications gap with federal officials that left the local government in the dark about the danger posed by the fallout from a Chinese rocket launch last Friday.

Joint Region Marianas responded to questions about that event, but officials at Andersen Air Force Base have not.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Guam Homeland Security are in agreement that the object seen breaking apart as it streaked across the night sky over the Marianas Friday night was debris from a Chinese rocket launched earlier that evening.

The debris is believed to have fallen into the waters northeast of Saipan.

The FAA has already acknowledged that they received and posted a notice to all pilots last Wednesday to avoid an area around the Marianas between 14 and 15 degrees north latitude, between Guam and Saipan, because of what the FAA said would be rocket debris falling from within that area.

Guam authorities were not advised by their federal counterparts about the potential danger to island residents in both Guam and the CNMI from pieces of burning hot rocket debris falling from the sky.

China used its Long March 5 rocket to boost an experimental communications satellite into a geosynchronous orbit. The Long March 5 is China’s biggest most powerful launch vehicle.

Did officials at Andersen Air Force Base know? Were they monitoring the event?

Andersen officials did not advise the Government of Guam ahead of time and they did not respond to a request for comment from the Pacific News Center.

Joint Region Marianas did not advise GovGuam ahead of time either but they did respond, although not directly.

JRM declined to confirm what both the FAA and Guam Homeland Security say was rocket debris.

Instead, JRM said “there was no military threat to Guam or the CNMI related to this event” and “during the event Joint Region Marianas was in constant communication with Guam Homeland Security and Office of Civil Defense.”

During the event, yes, but GovGuam officials say they were not informed ahead of time.

When asked whether they knew about the FAA warning that rocket debris would be falling in our area ahead of time, the JRM response was they “monitor for military threats to this region.”

PNC was referred to the Secretary of Defense for any further questions on “beforehand knowledge on the Chinese satellite launch.”

And when asked why no warning was issued to the general public, the JRM response was to “please contact the FAA on this”

Will China continue to launch commercial satellites from Hainan island using its March 5 rocket? And will the Mariana islands continue to be in the debris field when those launches occur?

The Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense release today quotes the governor as saying that as a result of this incident “we found gaps in communication between federal authorities and their local counterparts.”

The governor has instructed the Homeland Security Advisor to help close those gaps in the future “because the safety of the community is our priority.”