The Tyranny of Distance in Homeland Defense: Weapons of Mass Destruction Response in the Pacific Territories

Source: CIA,
Source: CIA,

Presented: June 17, 2021 3:00 pm
Presented by: John Clements

The United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) covers nearly half of the Earth’s surface, stretching from the western border of India to the West Coast of the United States and from Antarctica to the North Pole. Thousands of Pacific Islands exist in this Command, including some of the most remote areas of the world. Within this area, the United States is responsible for the homeland defense of one state (Hawaii), three territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), and three sovereign nations who are in a Compact of Free Association with the United States (The Republic of Palau, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia). An event involving weapons of mass destruction, particularly a chemical or radiological event, will quickly overwhelm local resources. The great distances of the Pacific region are a logistical challenge for USINDOPACOM planners, generating the often-repeated phrase “tyranny of distance.” A snapshot of the logistical situation and considerations for the immediate response to an event that can be replicated on scores of these remote but inhabited islands are presented.

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