House Democrats and Republicans continue to press the Defense Department to designate a preferred location for a third long-range ballistic missile defense interceptor site.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) at a House Appropriations Committee hearing on May 1 that a decision on a preferred site had been made and that he would share the result with Congress later that day. Shanahan has yet to announce a decision.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) has similarly pressed the Pentagon to make a final designation.
The current system to protect the U.S. homeland against a limited long-range missile attack, known as the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, consists of interceptor sites in Alaska and California.
In the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress required the Defense Department to conduct a study to evaluate at least three possible new long-range interceptor sites that could augment the GMD system, including at least two on the East Coast.
The Defense Department announced in 2016 that it had completed a draft environmental impact statement of three possible locations: Fort Drum in New York, Camp Garfield Joint Training Center in Ohio, and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan.
Fort Drum is located in Stefanik’s congressional district while Ryan represents Camp Garfield.
The fiscal year 2016 and 2018 defense authorization bills directed the Pentagon to designate a preferred location for a third site. Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s “2019 Missile Defense Review” report, published in January, said that no decision has been made to deploy a third GMD site and that the location for a potential site “will be informed by multiple pertinent factors at the time.” (See ACT, March 2019.)
The Missile Defense Agency has repeatedly stated that the estimated cost of $3–4 billion to build such a site would be better spent on improving the capabilities of the existing GMD system.—KINGSTON REIF