Jacobs: Really? A missile base in Vermont?

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Ron Jacobs of Burlington.

The Vermont news media recently published stories stating that the Pentagon is considering building a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense base in Jericho, a small town near Burlington.

When people think about Vermont, Jericho is what people think of: wooded lands, dairy farms, older houses, and a blend of Yankee families whose roots go back generations and newer residents looking for tranquility, beauty and a good place to raise their kids. There is no reasonable argument for a missile base in Jericho. Indeed, there is no reasonable argument for this missile base to be built anywhere.

It was barely 20 years ago that the United States shut down most of its silos containing missiles because their reason for being no longer existed. Even if someone believes that terrorists or another country will mount a major attack on the United States, the likelihood of this type of missile defense having any use is near zero.

There is one big reason for this proposed site. That reason is profit for the corporations involved. The construction of this site is nothing more than a transfer of public monies to private corporations.


There is one big reason for this proposed site. That reason is profit for the corporations involved. The construction of this site is nothing more than a transfer of public monies to private corporations. It is very similar to what sports team owners do when they convince a city to build a new stadium except that missile sites are obviously quite lethal and with no redeeming social or entertainment value.

If one takes a look at the components of the system the Pentagon wants to place in Vermont, one will see that, besides the grotesque nature of the language describing certain parts of the system, the companies that will profit from its construction are quite familiar. Here are the basics:

  • Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) — Raytheon
  • Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) — Orbital Sciences
  • Battle Management Command, Control and Communications (BMC3) — Northrop Grumman
  • Ground Based Radars (GBR) — Raytheon
  • Upgraded Early Warning Radars (UEWR, aka PAVE PAWS) — Raytheon
  • Forward Based X-Band Radars (FBXB) –Raytheon

According to a March 13, 2012, report in Business Insider, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman rank Nos. 3 and 5 respectively in the list of the top U.S. defense contractors. Orbital Sciences reported revenues of over a billion dollars in 2012, much of it made in the construction of missile systems components. These companies have yet to mount their campaign in Vermont trying to sell its citizens on the merits of having a missile base in their state, but when they do, it is essential to remember that their primary motivation is profit, not safety, security or Vermonters’ well-being.

The amount of money this proposed base will cost to construct has not been published. However, the known costs to this point for the program average out to around $900 million per year. As of this date, only two such missile bases exist, one in Fort Greeley, Alaska, and one at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California. A third base was proposed for Poland and was canceled.

Not only should this missile base not be built in Vermont, it should not be built at all. Its proponents will tell the communities the Pentagon has pinpointed as potential sites for the bases that these missile sites will create jobs and bring revenue to their regions. This is mostly untrue. The majority of the people working at the base will be assigned there from other parts of the country and will be military and or government contractors. The amount of revenue brought into the region is unlikely to offset the costs of the environmental damage the construction and basing of the missiles will cause. Furthermore, the fact that almost a billion dollars a year is to be spent on an unnecessary defense system is obscene in the face of the economic situation faced by so many in the U.S. population.

Vermonters are currently engaged in a fierce debate over the basing of F-35 jet fighters in their state. Like the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, the F-35 is an unnecessary weapons system designed primarily to transfer taxpayers’ money into the pockets of Lockheed Martin (the nation’s No. 1 defense contractor). Many supporters of basing the F-35 in Vermont sum up their support with the phrase, “It’s the sound of freedom.” This is patent nonsense. Neither the F-35 nor the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system denotes the sound of freedom. No, the sound they are making is the sound of our hard-earned money being stolen from our children’s schools, our nation’s infrastructure, our hospitals, and our futures. The other part of that sound these unnecessary and fear-mongering weapons systems is the sound of the defense industry CEOs, the politicians in their pockets and the generals at the Pentagon laughing at our gullibility and counting their coin.


  1. Patrick Cashman :

    This piece was originally published by a blog called “dissidentvoice”, which should put it in context fairly plainly.

    However it is also interesting to note that Mr. Jacobs, while apparently opposed to any sort of national defense related activity, is an apologist for the college dropout terrorists who styled themselves the “Weathermen”. Mr. Jacobs stated “I found its politics difficult to understand but always admired its style and its ability to hit targets which in my view deserved to be hit.”

    Mind you the “targeting” Mr. Jacobs admires was the employment of indiscriminant bombs with the intent of killing innocent Americans because of political disagreement. When evolution finally took its inevitable course this particular group was constructing a nail bomb with the intent of sneaking it into a dance at the Fort Dix Non-Commissioned Officers Club. So a group of mid-20 somethings planning to kill a whole bunch of mid-20 somethings and their dates at a social event, because of political differences. And Mr. Jacobs admires their style.

    • The Weathermen have a remarkable track record of making progressive liberals sound like Fascists — even more remarkable that they would still hold sway over the imagination so many decades later.

    • Ben Eastwood :

      It is interesting how the apologists for the military industy, knowing full well there is no justification for another unconstitutional military base in Vermont, resort to attacking the messenger rather than the message.
      The Vermont Constitution clearly states that standing armies ought not be kept up because of the danger they pose to democracy, and the undemocratic way bases are sited against public opinion clearly illustrates the issue. Vermonters by and large do not want our state to be a militarized zone. Neither the F-35 nor the proposed missile system will make Vermont safer, but would instead raise the risk of terrorist or military attack.
      We need to cut our military by at least half. We would still have by far the worlds largest military budget, and we would he able to lower taxes on working families, repair the damage to our social safety net, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and pay down the debt. Instead of increasing the number of ineffectual bases, we need to trim the fat, and make our military leaner and meaner but with a much more focused mission of defense and stop getting involved in these costly and barbaric wars for corporate profit.

      • Patrick Cashman :

        “Attacking the messenger”? Ummmm….no. It is not an “attack” to point out the ridiculous things said by someone in the past in order to place their current opinions in the appropriate context. It’s just basic due diligence.

  2. David Dempsey :

    This idea is so preposterous that is laughable. It is convenient though that this story broke right now, completely out of the blue to me at least, at a time when Vermont’s leading politicians are getting a lot of heat about their support for basing the F-35s in South Burlington. These same politicians espressed there non-support for the missile site proposal before most people had even heard about it. Why would the US Department of Defense introduce a proposal for another possible devisive national defense issue in Vermont before the first issue is decided. Who knows why or how this missile base issue came to the light right now, it sure gave the politicians a chance to show the public that they aren’t war mongers, because they won’t support this defensive weapon project. Maybe I have lost leave of my senses, but in politics anything is possible.

  3. Linda Quackenbush :

    It’s always about the money…US contractual rebuilding of war torn infrastructure in foreign underdeveloped nations is a governmental money maker! Unfortunately “WAR & WEAPONRY” is a economy booster at “all” phases of construction and deconstruction.

    The biggest problem I see is the perpetual expansion of conflicts worldwide due to US governmental involvement and fulfilling DOD contractual obligations. The continual progression of US conflicts has enormous budgetary demands on the American people. There are plenty of US military bases that were decommissioned (Plattsburgh AFB(SAC) during Clinton’s tenure. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to recommission one of those instead of opening a new site in Jericho?



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