North Korea has reacted with threats of its own, warning that it might launch a missile strike toward the Pacific island of Guam, which is a USA territory and home to a strategic U.S. base, as early as this month, and adding that it was capable of starting a nuclear war that might reach the continental United States.
Meanwhile, Japan says it could shoot down missiles for its U.S. ally if North Korea fires them at Guam.
A key component to USA military power in the Asia-Pacific region is its permanent deployment of troops in South Korea, a legacy from the Korean War.
The plan calls for sending 12 rockets over Japan to crash in the waters about 30 miles from Guam, which is 2,100 miles east of the Korean peninsula. Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential possession of the US military.
Similarly, the USA military gave no indications it perceived a seriously escalating threat from Pyongyang, such as moving to evacuate American personnel or their families from Guam, where there are 7,000 US troops, or South Korea, where there are 28,000.
Not backing down, President Donald Trump warned Kim Jong Un's government on Thursday to "get their act together" or face extraordinary trouble, and suggested his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea was too mild. No one knows if or when the North Korea leader will give the order to launch.
"I feel that the presence of the military on Guam will help us a lot", said Virgie Matson, 51, a resident of Dededo, Guam's most populated village.
In order to ensure that the USA maintains its position as the pre-eminent Pacific superpower and maintains its ability to defend its island territories and the West Coast, Mr. Trump should consider targeted strategic investment in the region.
Of course, if the USA determines that North Korea has launched a missile targeting the United States, the President would have to decide whether to retaliate.
The South's defense chief, Song Young-moo, has said his country is "fully capable" of building its own nuclear weapons but is not considering that option for now.
Yet another way to address American interests in the South Pacific is by re-establishing a U.S. Navy instillation at American Samoa. This will drastically expand the necessary search area for any country attempting to hunt down North Korea's mobile missiles.
During the Vietnam War, the Air Force sent 155 B-52 bombers to Guam to hit targets in Southeast Asia.
Guam was claimed by Spain in 1565 and became a US territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. During the Cuban missile crisis, former president Kennedy made sure the USA didn't box in Khrushchev in order to maintain peace. The U.S. took back control of Guam on July 21, 1944. For years now, we have learned to not take Pyongyang seriously when it lets loose with it colorful rhetorical barrages. The air base was built in 1944, when the US was preparing to send bombers to Japan during World War II.
"They believe that we are not true USA citizens, when we do have plenty of Chamorro people going into the USA military and serving for their country and dying for their country", he said. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in Asia this week, said North Korea could signal it was ready for such talks by halting any missile tests for an extended period.
The strip of land in the western Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of Chicago, and just 4 miles (6 km) wide at its narrowest point. That's a statement. He's not going to go around threatening Guam and he's not going to threaten the United States and he's not going to threaten Japan, and he's not going to threaten South Korea. While the Post's headline today was 'Trump escalates rhetoric, ' in truth he went from threatening responses if they said bad things (which they immediately did, re Guam) to if they did bad things against the USA or allies (or "anybody that we love").