Lawmakers Lobby Defense Dept. for Missile Interceptor

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation called on Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to select Camp Garfield as the third Continental United States Interceptor Site.

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Bill Johnson were among those who signed the letter, dated March 26, calling on Shanahan to choose the former Camp Ravenna.

The U.S. Department of Defense yesterday released its long-awaited 2019 Missile Defense Review, a document that outlined the threat environment and described “policies, strategies and capabilities” that will guide its missile defense programs “to counter the expanding missile threats posed by rogue states and revisionist powers.”

The report left unresolved the question of whether to establish a $3.6 billion East Coast Missile Defense Site, which would join existing continental missile interceptor sites in Alaska and California. In addition to Camp Garfield in Ravenna, Fort Drum in upstate New York and Fort Custer in southern Michigan are under consideration.

Construction of the missile defense base would create an estimated 2,300 cjobs and bring about 850 full-time jobs, including many highly technical – and highly paid – positions.

“Camp Garfield’s location, infrastructure and local workforce make it the perfect location to build the East Coast Missile Defense Site. I have full confidence in our ability, experience and readiness to take on this critical national security endeavor,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said in announcing the letter sent to Shanahan.

“Camp Garfield has a proven history of providing critical support to our national security, and the men and women of Northeast Ohio stand ready to take on and carry out this mission,” Brown, D-Ohio said. “I strongly urge the Department of Defense to select Camp Garfield as the third ground-based interceptor site.”

“Camp Garfield is the right place to put this missile defense facility,” Portman, R-Ohio, agreed. “It is strategically located, meets all the criteria, and most importantly has the highly-skilled, highly-educated workforce necessary to build this critically-important facility when it is approved.”

In their letter, the lawmakers cite the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which they argue requires the Defense Department to designate a preferred location of a potential additional continental United States interceptor site within 60 days of publishing the Ballistic Missile Defense Review.

The department maintains that it is not required to name a site, Ryan’s office said.

Asked to comment on the letter and when or whether the Defense Department would make a decision on the interceptor, a spokesman said the department doesn’t discuss “specific timelines of potential projects, contracts, etc.”

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