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Report IDs Fort Drum as potential missile placement site

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FORT DRUM — The placement of defense missiles on the East Coast, potentially at Fort Drum, could help better defend the nation from a long-range missile attack, according to a report issued this week.

The report, created by a committee of the National Research Council at the request of Congress, also suggests Rome or northern Maine as potential Northeastern sites.

According to researchers, the nation’s current missile defense system is “very expensive and has limited effectiveness.” The system offers “early but fragile” capability from potential threats from North Korea, but is limited in its ability to counter attacks from other regions, the report states.

One of the recommendations in the report, which has been in development since 2010, is the creation of a third defense missile site, in the Northeast, as well as technical upgrades for the nation’s ground-based missile defenses and radar technology. A Northeast site would be in addition to sites already operational at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Researchers said their recommendations could be implemented in the current $45 billion budgeted for missile defense from 2010 to 2017, through cuts to unnecessary programs.

The report, which came out Tuesday, recommends that the nation’s defense system be focused on intercepting enemy missiles in mid-flight, not during early launch, which is not thought to be feasible.

Discussion on the placement of missiles and tracking technology in the north country have gone on for months.

Funding of $25.9 million for a data terminal complex at Fort Drum that would relay information to California and Alaska on incoming missiles is currently being considered by Congress. Plans call for the terminal to be operational by 2015.

Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base, the two other sites that have similar terminals, also have missiles on site.

Richard Lehner, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, said the placement of the terminal does not mean missiles will also be placed at the post.

The copy of the report can be seen at www.bit.ly/O49zLD.

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