July 31, 2016
Stefanik leads bid to land Fort Drum missile defense site
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, is leading a bid to land a new ballistic missile defense site at Fort Drum, an addition the Pentagon says it doesn’t need.
Stefanik won $15 million in this year’s defense appropriations budget for planning, design and construction of an East Coast site that would augment the ones already operational at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Fort Greely, Alaska.
The system, in place since 9/11 primarily to deter rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, has a hit-and-miss testing record that makes its overall value questionable in the eyes of critics.
But in an interview, Stefanik, a member of the House Armed Services Committee in her first re-election bid, said the missile shield is an integral part of national defense and Fort Drum is the ideal location for an East Coast launch pad.
“Given the threats around the world today, our missile defense must be at highest state of readiness possible,” she said. “The priority now is to ensure that Fort Drum is in the best possible position as the preferred site.”
Under a 2013 congressional directive, the military must study the feasibility of an East Coast installation. Competing with Fort Drum are two other locations, the Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan and Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center in Ohio.
Last month as part of the competition, representatives of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency met with local Watertown, Jefferson County, officials and community leaders who assured the officials the surrounding area would do all it could to facilitate the extra personnel and hardware if Fort Drum is selected.