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Fort Drum emerges as potential site for East Coast missile defense

The Missile Defense Agency successfully conducted a flight test of a three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The Defense Department has named Fort Drum as one of four military installations to house a possible East Coast missile defense facility.

The decision narrows the number of locations being considered from 10 to four. The Defense Department stresses that no decision has yet been made about whether the facility will actually be built.

Congressman Bill Owens says among the field of four bases selected for review, Fort Drum is well-positioned.

“I don’t think any of them have the infrastructure that Fort Drum does, in terms of being able to support the troops assigned to this facility. And I think that that’s going to be a major deciding factor,” he said.

The environmental impact study will take two years and will look at how building and operating the facility would affect land and water use, air quality, transportation, and socioeconomic aspects of the community. Sites in Michigan, Ohio and Maine will also undergo studies.

Owens says if the facility were built at Fort Drum, it would be a boon to the area’s economy.

“You’re continuing to build missions for Fort Drum. Each time you do that, I think you make the facility stronger,” he said.

Congress is pushing the Pentagon to consider building an East Coast missile defense site out of concern that Iran will develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Based in Watertown, Joanna files reports and feature stories of specific interest to listeners in the North Country. Her reports are heard during regional news breaks aired in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.