Op-Ed: Missile Defense Review Update

By: James Dignan, president & CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The long-delayed, congressionally mandated Missile Defense Review (MDR) was finally introduced by President Donald Trump at the Pentagon Jan. 17. It calls for further research and new investments to help safeguard America’s safety for the next several decades to include new laser technologies, using the F-35 as an ICBM killer and potentially putting interceptors in space.

In attendance at the rollout was a veritable “who’s who” of current national security officials that included Vice President Mike Pence. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio (R-10 Dayton), a leading advocate for missile defense, also participated and released the following statement: “The Missile Defense Review provides a timely and necessary response to our adversaries’ advancements in capabilities. This review rightly and strongly reaffirms the United States’ commitment to keeping the American people and our allies safe through maintaining and enhancing a robust deterrence.”

It has been a long and winding road for the MDR to finally emerge out of the bowels of the Pentagon. Originally officials said the document would be released in December 2017 – but then pushed back the time frame several times throughout 2018 until October, when Patrick Shanahan, then-deputy secretary of defense, said the report “had been done for some time.”

The 2019 Missile Defense Review outlines the threat environment and “describes the policies, strategies and capabilities” that will guide our missile defense programs “to counter the expanding missile threats posed by rogue states and revisionist powers.”

Sen. Rob Portman released the following statement on the 2019 Missile Defense Review, saying he will continue to highlight the importance of Camp James A. Garfield (formerly Camp Ravenna) to our country’s defense posture: “The ballistic missile threat to the United States has grown greatly in recent years, particularly as Iran has expanded its capabilities. Adding a third ground-based interceptor site would serve American interests by protecting the U.S. homeland from this threat and deterring future aggression. Camp Garfield in particular provides a cost-efficient and effective location to help defend the United States from ballistic missile threats. Although the new Missile Defense Review does not make a final decision on a third interceptor site, I will continue to make the case to the Defense Department that Camp Garfield is the ideal location.”

Release of the MDR is a welcome step forward for our long-term homeland security and Camp Garfield. We salute the intense effort and review by the national security community to evaluate the broader ballistic missile threat.

While our local community will continue leaning forward to support the nation’s security, it is clear the Department of Defense is considering a variety of missile threats, developments and technologies, along with the means to most effectively counter those threats. While the MDR represents a mixed message regarding immediate next steps on an East Coast missile defense system, the MDR also indicates that the existing three candidate sites, including Camp Garfield, remain under consideration.

The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber urges Ohio’s Congressional delegation and our local and state political leaders to continue advocating for the safety of all Ohioans and everyone else in the Eastern United States, which is facing the potential threat of incoming nuclear missiles from countries like Iran.

Understanding the Defense Department’s broad strategy is important, but so is working to site a facility to better protect the Midwest and the Eastern Seaboard, an activity that will take investment and significant lead time to construct. We encourage the administration and Congress to ensure that a decision on an additional U.S. interceptor site be looked at from this timing perspective.

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