Iron Dome missile defense system temporarily deployed to Guam. Why?

Photo credit: Nehemia Gershuni, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Joint Region Marianas and the Government of Guam are working with the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command and 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade to support the temporary deployment of one of the Army’s Iron Dome Defense Systems (IDDS-A) to Andersen Air Force Base.

This even as the U.S. House earlier cut funding for an expansion of the missile defense systems for Guam. Currently, just the THAAD anti-missile defense system is deployed on Guam.

So why the apparent change in policy?

The deployment comes as China sent 56 fighter planes toward Taiwan early this week in the largest show of force on record, continuing three days of sustained military harassment against the self-ruled island.

North Korea has also recently been firing off missiles in a new round of tests and intimidation tactics.

Military officials, however, mentioned none of these threats in announcing the new missile defense deployment.

Joint Region Marianas said the Iron Dome deployment is just an “experimental” deployment for testing purposes.

“This experimental deployment is a tremendous opportunity to test the
capability of a point defense system in the theater, assess its performance
alongside existing systems, and determine for future use,” said Commander,
Joint Region Marianas, Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson. “A robust missile
defense capability will significantly improve our defense posture and
protect our people and critical assets in the region.”

“I fully support the temporary deployment of the Iron Dome system to Guam.
Additional missile defense protection in this part of the world would
strengthen national security by providing another layer of protection to our
current Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system or THAAD. The Guam
National Guard is currently on their fourth rotation of security at the
THAAD site. A permanent missile defense capability would be a continuation
of the local investments made to secure a safer homeland, in partnership
with the Department of Defense,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “At a time
when a free and open Indo-Pacific Region is of utmost global importance, a
safe and prosperous home for Guam residents is of equal local importance. We
look forward to continued work that ensures the freedom and security of our
people, as One Guam with our DoD partners.

According to the military, personnel have already arrived in Guam, and the temporary deployment is anticipated to take place from mid-October through mid-December. The
deployment will be executed in multiple locations and equipment may be visible in Apra Harbor, Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz and Andersen Air Force Base.

Island residents should anticipate additional military vehicles on Guam’s roadways in the coming weeks. In addition, soldiers and equipment from Fort Bliss, Texas will be part of this deployment for the duration of the operational assessment.