US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies to the House Armed Services Committee on "The National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly said at a hearing in Washington on Tuesday that the US plans to strengthen its military base on Guam against a possible North Korean missile attack.

“We will continue bolstering them to keep pace with the threat out of North Korea,” Mattis said in response to a question from Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordello.

Bordello had asked Mattis whether the US territory in the Western Pacific is adequately defended from “theater missile threats.” She also asked how the secretary plans to strengthen the defense systems already in place on the island, which has a THAAD missile system and serves as a major US Air Force base for B-2 and B-52 bombers.

“Besides the THAAD system we also keep the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense US Navy warship in the waters out there. We can always reinforce that,” Mattis said. “We also have several of those ships in Japanese waters right now and they can move back and forth to include coverage of Guam in the mobile way that comes to our Navy.”

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