Guam – As China adds more notches to its so-called “One Belt Initiative,” what does it mean for Guam’s geopolitical position in the Pacific?
The Rotary Club of Guam held its weekly meeting Thursday featuring Naval Base Commanding Officer Captain Jeffrey Grimes, who gave a presentation on Guam’s current strategic strengths, which include our power projection location, deep water ports, airfields, as well as the fact that we are the economic center of Micronesia.
According to Grimes all this matters even more now that China has built militarized islands on reefs in the South China Sea, advancing their strategic starting points, saying, “Guam’s role is critical. We’re basically the 911 force.”
Naval Magazine has more than 100 magazines or weapons bunkers, which are a substantial portion of our nation’s supply, making the forces on Guam ready strike when needed, according to Grimes. He said this provides stability in the region.
“That is the focus. The focus is never to fight. But in order to ensure we never fight, I need to be ready that if we fight we will win. And that’s the goal,” he said.
Grimes pointed out the importance of Guam’s fuel reserves. Guam has 27 miles of pipeline along the waterfront that connects Naval base to Andersen, linking them to the island’s strategic fuel reserve.
Guam is also a regional logistic hub facilitating the U.S. military’s Joint Reception Staging Onward Integration operations, which replaces any assets that are sent off-island.
“This is vital to the competition we are currently in with China,” said Grimes.
China has been increasing its presence globally with their “belt and road” initiative that includes a debt-trap strategy, which loans billions of dollars to nations they know can’t pay them back, in order to seize control of their ports or natural resources.
Impacts of this strategy can be seen in Sri Lanka, South Africa, and places closer to home like the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.