The Missile Defense Agency within three years foresees 20 missile defense sites around Guam, seen here Jun 12, 2024.

The Missile Defense Agency within three years foresees 20 missile defense sites around Guam, seen here Jun 12, 2024. (Joseph Ditzler/Stars and Stripes)

The Missile Defense Agency has yet to explain a provision in its live-fire test plan for Guam’s proposed defense system that would call on landowners to temporarily vacate their properties, according to a Guam think tank.

The flight tests, which would comprise two live-fire tests per year for a decade, are part of the agency’s plan to develop the Enhanced Integrated Air and Missile Defense System planned for the island. The agency has described it as a “360-degree” system that could protect Guam from ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles.

The public comment period for the plan’s environmental assessment was extended 30 days in late June to Aug. 2, according to the agency website. The assessment is available online for review at Comments may be submitted via mail, email or in person at an open house meeting 5-8 p.m. July 25 at the Dededo Senior Center. 

One provision of the plan states that some landowners may be asked to vacate their properties for up to four days during the missile tests, according to the assessment. 

A lack of transparency around that provision concerns the Pacific Center for Island Security, according to Robert Underwood, the center’s chairman. The think tank focuses its research primarily on Guam’s strategic position for the U.S. military in the Indo-Pacific.

“People are being warned about staying away from their property during the conduct of these tests, and the property owners have not been identified — and maybe they don’t feel the need to identify them,” he told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday.

The Missile Defense Agency did not respond to an email Wednesday from Stars and Stripes requesting comment.

The defense plan calls for up to 20 different missile sites across the island, to be operational by 2027.

The Defense Department “would coordinate with affected private landowners to relocate during this time period at no cost to the landowners,” according to the assessment, but Underwood said not enough information is provided to accurately gauge how this might affect private residences or commercial properties.

The environmental assessment is 378 pages long, highly technical, and detached from the missile defense plan itself, Underwood said. 

“It’s being given to you in bite-sized form, but it’s difficult to swallow because you need analytical resources in order to be able to understand what’s going on,” he said. “The fact is, these things are all kind of connected, but they’re issued in smaller increments.”

Guam Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio in a June 11 letter to Lt. Gen. Heath Collins, head of the Missile Defense Agency, expressed similar reservations about the landowner provision. Tenorio also asked for a 60-day extension for the comment period.

“The [assessment] is a complex document, and the activities identified to deploy and test the missile defense system may have far-reaching implications,” he wrote, according to a June 11 news release from the Guam governor’s office. “The interests of the people of Guam necessitate that we be given sufficient time and consideration to submit these concerns.”

Neither Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero nor Rep. James Moylan, Guam’s non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, responded to emails Wednesday from Stars and Stripes seeking comment.

author picture
Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now