Pentagon to further study 4 possible East Coast missile defense sites

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:37pm EST

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WASHINGTON Jan 31 (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department said on Friday it would conduct environmental impact studies for four possible missile defense sites in the eastern United States but stressed it had not yet decided to proceed with construction.

Congress, worried about Iran's efforts to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, is urging the Pentagon to commit to an East Coast site. Defense officials say current interceptors on the West Coast can defend the country against possible missile attacks, and an extra interceptor site would add enormous costs to a military budget already under pressure.

Still, Pentagon officials are proceeding with the environmental impact study required under a directive in the 2013 defense authorization bill. In a statement issued Friday, the department said it would take about two years to complete a comprehensive environmental impact study, which will look at potential impacts to land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors.

The four sites are Fort Drum, New York; SERE Training Area at Naval Air Station, Portsmouth, Maine; Camp Ravenna Joint Training Center in Ohio; and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan.

A fifth possible site - Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Vermont that had been identified in September - was dropped from the list of sites to be studied further. It was not immediately clear why it was dropped.

U.S. lawmakers, worried about the ability of West Coast missile defense sites to protect against all possible missile threats, have pressed the Pentagon to consider adding sites in the eastern half of the country.

The 2013 defense authorization law required U.S. officials to identify three possible interceptor sites, including at least two on the East Coast.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, said selection of the four sites marked an important step forward, but urged the Obama administration to speed up work on the environmental impact statement (EIS), given Iran's reported continued work to develop long-range missiles.

"In light of the fact that Iran may have an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of striking the continental United States as early as next year, I call on the administration to expedite the EIS and move without delay to build a missile defense interceptor site on the east coast of the United States," she said in a statement.

Riki Ellison with the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said the United States faced other more pressing missile defense needs than creation of a new interceptor site, including a redesign of the part of the rocket that is used to hit enemy missiles and destroy them on impact.

The Pentagon's chief weapons tester recommended work on a new "kill vehicle" in a report this week.

Kingston Reif, with the nonprofit Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, noted that the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that it would cost about $3.5 billion over the next five years to build a third interceptor site.

"This is money the Pentagon does not have and does not want to use for this purpose," he said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Comments (1)
CPT35E wrote:
Apparently Congressional Officials do not understand current Air & Missile Defense technology, nor are they aware of critical asset defense. First, placing these anti-missile batteries / systems in these four locations will do nothing to actually intercept any missiles. Next, these proposed sites are not protecting any critical assets (major cities) along the east coast from a potential adversarial missile launch.

Next, the kind of launch Congress is concerned about is a missile launch by Iran from a false-flag commercial ship in the Atlantic. As such, targeted areas would likely include the following cities (Washington, D.C. – Pentagon, New York City, Philadelphia, Norfolk – US Navy Base, Fort Bragg, Charlotte – NC, Charleston – SC, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando – Disney World, Miami.

From that list I would say the four priority sites are Washington, D.C., New York City, Norfolk, and Atlanta. However, if we announce publicly the sites we are defending, then an enemy like Iran or any other adversary will just select another area to target that can guarantee them a successful launch / strike.

The best thing is an Multiple Integrated Air Defense System that interfaces with Army, Navy, and Air Force ground, sea, air and space based missile preparation and launch detection capability, and determines which system is best to conduct a counter-launch in order to destroy the enemy missile. Afterwards, a secondary strike by the Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps would include the destruction of the false-flag commercial vessel that conducted the launch.

Lastly, Congress must also consider that the first launch by an adversary may be a high altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) over the east coast in order to shut down the power grid on the east coast, which will disrupt public services (electricity, water, fuel pumps, food storage at grocery stores, disruption of schools, degraded ability at hospitals, etc).

Let’s hope that members of Congress get a good briefing before making a decision, because their current plan will not do anything to help improve or enhance the National Security of the United States from an enemy missile attack off the east coast.

Feb 03, 2014 12:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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