Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber Releases Statement Regarding Communication by Department of Defense on East Coast Missile Defense Site

Jun 27, 2019
Regional Chamber President James Dignan responded today to a communication from the Department of Defense regarding the east coast missile defense site.

The Under Secretary of Defense, Michael Griffin, communicated with several members of Congress yesterday regarding a third U.S. location for a Continental United States Interceptor missile defense site (CIS) in the eastern United States capable of protecting the homeland against threats from nations such as Iran and North Korea. The only other existing interceptors are on the west coast in Alaska and California. This site selection process has been under discussion, evaluation and review for more than six years and was originally mandated in the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

By way of background, the Department of Defense (DOD) conducted environmental impact evaluations of four candidate locations in the eastern U.S., including Camp Garfield in Ravenna, Ohio, and others in New York and Michigan. Data on the sites was collected in 2014 and 2015. The draft evaluation was announced in May 2016, and the public comment period to weigh in on this evaluation was closed less than three months later in August 2016. Since that time, no final evaluation report has been issued to the public.

In brief, yesterday the DOD sent a letter to Congress indicating that it had completed the environmental impact statements for each of the sites. The letter went on to indicate that the New York site was the “most expensive option with the most environmental challenges,” but—based on data collected and evaluated at least three and as many as five years ago—provided the “best operational coverage” and would “by a small margin” be the preferred site. The letter went on to state that “there is no operational requirement for an East Coast CIS,” and that, “(s)hould a requirement emerge, the decision would be re-evaluated,” and additional analysis based on “updated performance” and the “evolving threat” would be made.

James Dignan, president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said, “We are frustrated and disappointed with the mixed message conveyed by this communication. Nearly seven years have passed since efforts first began to identify and evaluate an East Coast site. As the coordinating entity for local and state efforts to advocate for our region, the Chamber will continue to stay engaged until there is a clear decision with a clear process, using relevant and recent information, and a clear timeline to make our nation safer.”

He added that this recent communication does not provide any clarity, only more questions, especially given DOD’s recent May correspondence that indicated the Department “has not chosen a preferred site” and that a “potential future decision on a site selection will by informed by pertinent factors at that time.”   

“While the first priority of our region has always been on national security, this unorthodox communication from the DOD, based upon dated information, raises more questions than answers for the many stakeholders invested in Camp Garfield and the safety and security of the country,” Dignan noted. “The entire region has and will continue to work with local stakeholders, our Ohio delegation in Congress, the Governor’s office, Department of Defense and Administration officials.

National security is the foremost responsibility of the Administration. We urge the Administration for a full review and clear plan for the East Coast CIS, and we remain convinced that our region can be the critical partner with DOD in this endeavor.”


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