ISLAND MELTING POT: Flags representing the United States, Guam, Japan, The Philippines, Palau and Taiwan are seen flying June 14, 2021, at the ITC Building in Tamuning. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

HAGATNA (GUAM DAILY POST) — Local officials are reacting to the released results of a war game that shows Guam in the crosshairs of China during a theoretical conflict with the United States over Taiwan.

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a “bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organisation dedicated to advancing practical ideas to address the world’s greatest challenges,” according to its website, recently released “The First Battle of the Next War: War-gaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan.”

The project represented a “war game for a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan and ran it 24 times. In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan. However, this defense came at high cost. The United States and its allies lost dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft and tens of thousands of service members,” the CSIS stated on its website.

Importantly, for people living on Guam, the island would be affected should an invasion occur, and devastating damage was described on military bases.

Kenneth Gofigan Kuper, a member of the Pacific Centre for Island Security, an “action-oriented research institute that aims to anchor islander and islander perspective,” according to its website, was concerned with the results when speaking to The Guam Daily Post.

“War-gaming is meant to help planners and the military simulate warfare and explore various scenarios of conflict. These can bring various results. The latest CSIS report, ‘The First Battle of the Next War,’ however, shows that in the case of a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan, there seems to be one constant: the role of Guam and the targeting of Guam,” said Kuper, who is also a monthly columnist for the Post.

For Kuper, what becomes clearer with each passing day is that “if or when tensions between the U.S and China turn kinetic, then Guam and Taiwan are frighteningly entangled.”

Kuper also honed in on a statement made in the report describing the end results in likely scenarios gamed out by CSIS: “As goes Taiwan, so goes Guam.”

“Even in the most optimistic scenario for the United States, China tries to attack air bases in Guam as part of the first phase of conflict. What is telling in the report is that operating from Guam without access to bases in Japan was detrimental to the U.S Yet, even in these unfavorable circumstances, the U.S would still attempt to operate from Guam. In this scenario, attacks on Guam were expected to be the greatest,” Kuper said.

Another key issue for local residents, according to Kuper, is how the people of Guam may view the reports of these results.

“For many, this report reinforces plans for relocating the Marine Corps and building a ‘missile defense’ system in Guam. A larger view is that the ‘tip of the spear’ is being sharpened, and Guam is being groomed to serve its role in the case of conflict with China, which is increasingly being portrayed as inevitable,” he said. “At the end of the day, we must realise that when it comes to conflict over Taiwan, many roads lead to Guam. Increasingly, it is clear that U.S presence is a cause to target Guam, thereby enhancing Guam’s role as one of the first to be attacked. We used to think we were a deterrent, now we are a target.”

CSIS, when describing the war game results on its website, stated, “Taiwan saw its economy devastated. Further, the high losses damaged the U.S global position for many years. China also lost heavily, and failure to occupy Taiwan might destabilise Chinese Communist Party rule. Victory is therefore not enough. The United States needs to strengthen deterrence immediately.”

Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, commander of Joint Region Marianas, told the Post, as the senior military official on Guam, he and his team have worked closely with local elected officials and stakeholders to “ensure a deeper understanding” of the military’s regional role in defending the homeland.

“Guam has always been a key strategic location for sustaining and maintaining U.S power, military deterrence, and responding to crises across the Indo-Pacific. While our current forces are capable of defending Guam against today’s threats, it is clear that the regional threat, including from China, continues to rapidly evolve,” he said.

Nicholson described the Department of Defense in Guam and the region as “well postured” to deter aggression and reassure allies and partners in the region.

“Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia are strategically vital to ensuring the U.S military can continue to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Nicholson said…. PACNEWS

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