A major U.S. military presence on the tiny western Pacific island of Guam has long existed in obscurity, but now it is suddenly in the cross hairs of a bellicose North Korean regime.
The U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean is home to 7,000 American military personnel, strategic bombers and Navy ships within striking range of Pacific hot spots, including the Korean Peninsula.
That prompted North Korea to warn Wednesday it was reviewing plans to strike Guam with a ballistic missile in the wake of President Trump's threat to respond to provocative actions by the North with "fire and fury."
North Korea has threatened Guam in the past, said Michael Madden, an analyst at the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Perhaps North Korean leader Kim Jong Un views the island as a particular threat. When the U.S. military flew B-1 bombers over South Korea in a show of force last month after a North Korean ballistic missile test, the bombers took off from Guam.
Madden said the North Korean government is sensitive about the threat from U.S. bombers, stemming from some of the devastation wrought during the Korean War. The North may have also wanted to demonstrate the reach of its medium-range ballistic missiles, he said.
Here is what you need to know about the island that is the focus of North Korean threats. Newslook
Guam is about 2,100 miles from North Korea.
The island of 162,000 people is only 210 square miles and is dominated by the U.S. military, which controls about one-third of its territory. The military first occupied Guam after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The U.S. military established a naval base and small Marine barracks there.
The island was occupied by Japan during World War II for more than two years. After the war, the U.S. military established Andersen Air Force Base and would turn the island into a vital military outpost in the region.
Bombers, fighters and other aircraft fly out of Andersen. A naval facility hosts an array of submarines and surface ships.
The U.S. Marine Corps has plans to move about 5,000 troops to Guam in coming years, as part of an effort to reduce its presence on Okinawa, Japan.
Guam has increased in importance to the U.S. military as the Pentagon has attempted to rebalance its forces in Asia, after years of fighting wars in the Middle East.
Elected officials in Guam are reassuring constituents that the U.S. territory is safe following North Korea's threat against the island. Guam residents are expressing a mix of concern and fear. (Aug. 9)AP
The governor of Guam, Eddie Baza Calvo, released a video in response to North Korea's threat, saying the island is not in danger and assuring residents that he was working with military commanders and other officials to prepare for any “eventuality.”
Still more: Guam: Island paradise turned ballistic target