THE PACIFIC OCEAN—After years of warnings from Congress, the island of Guam has finally capsized, according to several Department of Defense officials familiar with the matter. Satellite imagery confirmed that the island disappeared into the Pacific Ocean early Thursday morning. There were no survivors.
Senior defense officials say the island's inversion was the result of poor management by the Navy and Air Force.
“What happened this week was that the Air Force aircraft that are usually on the north side of the island were away on a training mission,” said a senior Navy civilian, speaking on condition of anonymity because he still didn't believe this had actually happened. “At the same time, a destroyer squadron docked at the naval based on the south side of the island.”
“That unbalanced the whole thing, and it just sort of tipped over and sank.”
The armed forces typically carefully manage the balance of Pacific islands in order to prevent them from capsizing. In 1943, Tarawa nearly inverted during a furious battle between U.S. and Japanese soldiers there, after the Japanese retreated too quickly to one shore. The two sides negotiated a brief truce and agreed to stack all the coconuts they could find on a beach opposite the last-ditch Japanese positions in order to make the atoll more stable.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who has long expressed concerns that DoD activity on Guam could put the geological stability of the island at risk, told reporters he was furious no one had paid attention to his warnings.
“Our hearts go out to the Guamese—Guamians? Guamoans? Whatever. The Guamericans and the military personnel now lost,” he said. “But make no mistake: The Department of Defense's reckless mismanagement of the island's weight and balance caused this tragic disaster.”
U.S. competitors have taken note of the tragic event, as well. In an editorial in the Chinese Global Times, People’s Liberation Army Colonel Wang Xiangsui stated that China's artificial islands in the South China Sea must be careful to avoid the fate of Guam.
“Whatever the Americans claim happened, all we know for certain is that they have demonstrated the capacity to use balance warfare to upend an entire island,” he wrote. “This capability will likely be used in the future against Chinese island territories. We must not allow anyone to overturn our sovereignty.”