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Owens urges missiles for Fort Drum

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If military leadership determines an Eastern missile defense site is necessary, Rep. William L. Owens believes it should be placed on Fort Drum.

“It makes all kinds of military sense, and it makes all kinds of economic sense,” said Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

Mr. Owens talked Tuesday about the progress of selecting a site with Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He said he was told environmental studies called for in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill passed last year were underway.

He said a decision about placement could be several months away.

The questions under consideration, Mr. Owens said, were whether the sites should be built, and if so, where they should be placed.

Fort Drum is one of four sites being considered, along with Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, and locations in Maine and New Hampshire.

Mr. Owens said only Fort Drum had the right size, location and infrastructure to handle the development of as many as 20 missile silos.

Boosting the post’s odds are a $25.9 million missile defense data terminal complex approved during the 2013 defense authorization bill.

The only other two locations with similar data terminals, Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., already have missiles.

However, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman told the Times in September that such development did not guarantee the placement of missiles.

The congressman said he had been told by former 10th Mountain Division commander Gen. Mark A. Milley that such a development would not negatively affect the post’s operations.

Mr. Owens said the additional capabilities and necessary soldiers would be helpful in avoiding Base Realignment and Closure cuts, which the Army has pushed for consecutive budgets.

On Thursday a spokesman for Mr. Owens said that the Congressman had only spoken to Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the post’s current commander, about a missile data terminal complex that received Congressional approval last year.

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