5 December 2016
Pentagon delays decision on East Coast missile defense site touted for Fort Drum
By Mark Weiner

http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/12/pentagon_delays_decision _on_east_coast_missile_defense_site_touted_for_fort_drum.html

Col. Thom Besch, former director of the Missile Defense Agency-Alaska Region, stands next to an inert missile interceptor as he explains how the missile works, in a storage facility at the missile defense site at Ft. Greely, Alaska, Friday, May 18, 2007. It is one of the two missile defense sites in the United States. (AP Photo/Al Grillo) (Al Grillo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Pentagon has delayed a decision that it had expected to make this month on where to build an East Coast missile interceptor base that New York members of Congress have touted for Fort Drum.

The Missile Defense Agency is completing a two-year study of three sites selected as finalists for the project -- Fort Drum, about 80 miles north of Syracuse, and military installations in Ohio and Michigan.

All three states have actively sought the potential $3.6 billion project, which would provide an economic boost by creating up to 1,450 new jobs for civilians, the military and construction workers.

Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, informed members of Congress from New York, Ohio and Michigan of the "slight delay" in the decision on Friday.

An aide told the congressional delegations that more time is needed to complete the study, but provided no other details other than saying "it will now slip into the new year."

Chris Johnson, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, confirmed the delay Monday. "MDA requires additional time to complete the study and coordinate with the combatant commanders," Johnson wrote in an email. "The final EIS (environmental impact statement) and proposed alternative will be released once we complete a thorough review."

The study, mandated by Congress, examined a 1,219-acre site at Fort Drum and competing plans to place an undetermined number of missile interceptors at Camp Ravenna Joint Training Center in Ohio and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan.

Members of Congress, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, whose district includes Fort Drum, have pushed for a third ground-based missile interceptor site in the United States.

Supporters say a new base could help defend against emerging threats from Iran and North Korea as those nations improve technology for intercontinental ballistic missiles. But The Missile Defense Agency and top generals at the Pentagon have testified to Congress that a third site in the United States is not necessary.

Syring and other military leaders have said the money needed for an East Coast site would be better spent upgrading the nation's two existing interceptor sites at Fort Greeley in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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