Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman supports Fort Drum missile defense system

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 4:59 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WWNY) - A possible missile defense system at Fort Drum has picked up support from the nation’s top military officer.

In a Department of Defense budget hearing Wednesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley voiced his support for the project, citing threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

“The question is: is it strategically worthwhile? I think yes,” he said.

The East Coast missile defense site would be located along Route 3A between the villages of Deferiet and Fargo.

The DoD chose the area as its preferred location in 2019.

“I personally think developing those systems on the East Coast would be helpful. It would further enhance the protection of the United States,” said Milley.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R. - 21st District) has pushed for the system to be built at Fort Drum for years.

“For over a decade it’s been U.S. policy to be ready for a third homeland missile defense site should the Iran threat mature,” she said during the hearing.

On Thursday, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D. - NY) echoed sentiments held by Milley and Stefanik.

”We need a lot more capabilities for missile defense. We also need a lot more over-the-horizon radar capabilities. Collectively we need a lot of work done in this space to make sure we have dominance in our air and space domains,” she said.

According to General Milley, it would take roughly a decade of construction to complete.

“It would cost billions. I don’t know the exact cost for this but it would take billions,” he said.

Gillibrand says the sooner work gets underway the better.

“We should have started it 5 years ago so it’s urgent,” she said.

Actual construction of the project has yet to be authorized by Congress.