01 November 2006

A Place and a Base: Guam and the American Presence in East Asia

Andrew S. Erickson and Justin Mikolay, “A Place and a Base: Guam and the American Presence in East Asia,” in Carnes Lord, ed., Reposturing the Force: U.S. Overseas Presence in the Twenty-first Century, Naval War College Newport Paper 26 (2006), 65-93.

Rising threats to American national security in East Asia coincide with growing uncertainty concerning the future of local support for U.S. basing access there. There is little reason to expect this situation to improve substantially in the foreseeable future. American planners have finally recognized the imperative to build up Guam as a sovereign anchor of America’s force posture in East Asia, to protect American interests in that strategically vital region. In what follows, we examine Guam’s potential importance as a forward operating base for the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

We first detail American interests in East Asia, with particular emphasis on the new national security strategy and potential sources of regional instability. Second, we critically evaluate the 2004 Global Posture Study and the call of the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review for “places, not bases.” Third, we review the various political constraints on U.S. military activities in the region. Finally, we explain the importance of strengthening port facilities in Guam, to transform it into a hub fully capable of supporting operations throughout East Asia. … …