Missile Defense Fields In Alaska Are In Jeopardy
DELTA JUNCTION, Alaska, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Riki Ellison, Chairman and President of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org spent two days with the soldiers that operate the missile defense fields at Fort Greely, Alaska. Below is a personal account of his impressions and insights of what is needed to complete the deployment of our nation's ground-based interceptors that are on duty to protect us from a missile attack.
MDAA had the distinct honor and pleasure to meet, engage and tour with the U.S. soldiers and commanding officers of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at the missile fields in Fort Greely, Alaska. Every hour of every day these men and women operate our nation's Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) that protect and keep safe the 50 states of our union from long-range ballistic missiles. About 1,600 people work on the post with 200 of them in uniform. The post has four major operations headed by US Army Lt Colonel Chris Chronis
War fighting operations of the current 20 plus GBIs is headed by the U.S. Army, led by Lt Colonel Steve Carroll and 200 soldiers of the 49th Battalion. The acquisition, development research and deployment of that missile defense system are led by the Missile Defense Agency. The winter testing grounds for Army equipment and training is at Wainwright Army Base, and it includes the operations and upkeep of the base including the air transport airport. This location was originally surveyed to hold five missile fields of 20 defensive missiles each for a total of 100 missiles.
The first missile field has six active silos with the first six interceptors and it was put in place as a testing bed only and then put forward to be operational as well. This field is designed with infrastructure to maintain only six silos and is the oldest missile field. Though there has been applied lessons learned with the infrastructure heating and cooling of all these first silos, they and the missiles in them are fully capable; however it should be noted that their cost of maintenance and sustainment is much higher than the newer fields.
Missile Field Three has the full complement of the original design to have two rows of 10 silos and the supporting infrastructure to heat and cool all of the silos. These silos are continually being filled with our newest GBIs until there is a full complement of 20 in place.
Missile Field Two is under construction and is laid out with two rows of seven silos currently and an engineering heating and cooling building and infrastructure to maintain and sustain the 14 Silos and their respective missiles. This is similar to Missile Field Three, with the exception of not having started the silo construction for the missing two extended rows of three silos to match the full complement of 20 silos and missiles in Missile Field Three.
Thus currently, more than $10 billion of our tax dollars have been spent for the GMD system to include the silos and missiles which are in place and under construction today at Fort Greely. The total amount of GBIs including California would be 44 if construction of Missile Field Two was to be fully completed with 14 missiles and silos.
The current Administration and the Secretary of Defense have stated that they will reduce the long-range ballistic missile protection for the US Homeland to 30 Ground-Based Interceptors. This represents a reduction of 14 missiles and 31.8 percent of our current protection.
Regardless of the Department of Defense's threat perceptions that seem to fluctuate politically even as North Korea has continued to launch multiple long- range ballistic missiles, including long-range, as well as two detonations of a nuclear devices and Iran which has space launch capable rockets while continuing to develop its nuclear technology.
The American tax payers have invested over $10 billion dollars in this system that is close to 90 percent complete. It is a significant waste of US taxpayer funds to deconstruct or "moth ball" Missile Field One and to not fully complete construction of Missile Field Two which is in the midst of construction with all the prefabricated Silo Interface Vaults (SIVs) already purchased and has the maintenance and electrical building complex to heat, cool and run 14 silos with their respective missiles. Moreover, if construction were stopped and if the Secretary of Defense as he stated would readdress the threat, and found that 30 GBIs were not enough he could move to build more. The future cost of construction and deployment the U.S. taxpayers would be 3 to 5 times more than it would be today to finish the $10 billion plus project at a cost of a little over $100 million dollars.
To not fully finish building the 14 silos at Fort Greely would seem to be a purely politically driven decision and should be seen as such as it is a fundamental misuse of oversight of U.S. tax dollars, and it makes no fiscal sense to stop construction. It significantly increases the risk to our homeland and national security (a reduction of 31.8 percent of the defensive missile force) that we as a nation need not take in order to stay ahead of Iran and North Korea which are progressing in both development and deployment of their own missiles.
If 30 deployed GBI's is the hard and immovable number of GBIs this Administration stands on, why not finish the construction of all the 14 silos in Missile Field Two for the economic sense for the U.S. tax payer and the decision to deploy the Administration's 26 GBIs for Fort Greely amongst the 40 completed silos there? Thus having the core costs and construction time taken care if this or a future Secretary of Defense decides to increase that number from 30 GBIs as the perception of the threat evolves. This scenario would also allow Missile Field One with six silos to go back to its core mission of testing as originally conceived, as five of those six silos were put in place as a testing and validation system.
We urge and advocate good fiscal oversight of U.S. tax dollars and not to increase the risk to our homeland, our nation and our people when we don't have to.
The 49th battalion, all 200 of them, believe and value their mission of protecting our nation with heart and passion. Their post at Fort Greely is vital, not only the operation of these tremendous assets are seen in that light , the protection of them is just as important as they say at the 49th "Missile Defense starts with the Fence first."On behalf of our members throughout our nation, we are thankful for and greatly appreciate the sacrifice of our nation's soldiers of the 49th Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska.
Posted: September 10, 2009