Camp Ethan Allen identified as possible missile defense site

A ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor in launch silo. Missile Defense Agency photo

A ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor in launch silo. Missile Defense Agency photo

The Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho has been identified by the Department of Defense as one of five potential locations on the East Coast for mid-range missiles in the nation’s midcourse interceptor program. The missiles are designed to intercept incoming enemy missiles carrying warheads.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told the media about the Pentagon’s plans after the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency made the announcement to the Senate’s Defense Appropriations Subcommittee (the Pentagon’s budget committee).

Leahy is highly critical of the program and opposes the basing of the missiles in Vermont.

“I’ve always felt that the multiple billions spent on missile defense are a monumental waste of money, on technologically challenged systems, and I am emphatically against putting one of these sites in Vermont,” Leahy said.

The Pentagon must conduct a study “to validate or invalidate the requirement for an East Coast ballistic missile defense location,” according to Leahy’s office. Part of that study, which will be conducted before the end of the year, would include an environmental impact statement.

All three members of the state’s congressional delegation and the governor support the basing of the Air Force F-35 fighter jet with the Vermont Air National Guard at Burlington International Airport, but none of the political officials support the missile base.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., ridiculed the idea. “This is absurd,” Welch said in a statement. “It’s the wrong location for a bad idea and dead on arrival.”

“My first impression is that this is a very bad idea and, for a wide variety of reasons, I do not believe that it will ever happen,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a statement.

Gov. Peter Shumlin chimed in. “Vermonters are well-served by our federal delegation’s thoughtful involvement and deep experience in these issues, and I agree with Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Congressman Welch,” Shumlin said in a statement.

Camp Ethan Allen, a Vermont National Guard base, may or may not be included in the list of locations that would be studied under an EIS, Leahy’s office says. Defense officials said an EIS would take 18 to 24 months to complete.

The other four sites identified as possible locations for the missile program include: Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, Ohio; NAS Portsmouth SERE Training Area, Maine; Fort Custer CTC, Michigan; and Fort Drum, New York.

According to Leahy spokesman David Carle, no decision has been made to deploy more interceptor sites in the United States. “Based on the fiscal 2013 defense authorizing law, the Pentagon is required to conduct a study to validate or invalidate the requirement for an East Coast ballistic missile defense location, and part of that study, which will be completed before the end of this year, will be to identify the possible locations for consideration under an Environmental Impact Study if the basic requirement for a site is validated. By virtue of this announcement, Camp Ethan Allen may, or may not, be included in that list of locations for further study under an EIS,” Carle wrote in an email.

Camp Ethan Allen was selected as one of the potential sites for the interceptor missile base because it met operational criteria, according to Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency. The Vermont National Guard property has adequate acreage, access to transportation, water and electricity, Lehner said.

All five of the proposed sites fall within a certain line across the United States, Lehner said, that would maximize the effectiveness of an interceptor missile. U.S. Northern Command and the Missile Defense Agency determined that the five sites announced on Thursday are strategic locations for attacking ballistic missiles that could be fired from Iran or North Korea, he said.

In theory, the trajectory of such an attack would place the Vermont base in a strategic position to shoot down any incoming missiles that might be targeted for New York City or Washington, D.C., defense officials said.

A report from Reuters quotes a defense department official saying “there is no money in the Pentagon’s future budget plans for such a site.” No decision has been made to build an additional site for missile interceptors, according to Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs.

Creedon told Reuters that military officials are concerned about sequestration cuts that could limit the number of interceptors at an existing base for mid-range missiles in Alaska. The cost for a new base would be “extraordinarily expensive,” she said, between $1 billion and $5 billion.

The Department of Defense has two missile interceptor bases — one in California and another in Alaska. Congress mandated that the Department conduct a study to consider another site in the lower 48 states.

Col. Michael Heston, Deputy Adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard said in a statement that “a small team of DoD personnel will conduct surveys to assess the infrastructure to include electric power supply, water resources, and transportation access of the location.”

The Missile Defense Agency plans to identify three new sites where a formal Environmental Impact Statement will be conducted to ultimately identify a preferred location.

Chris Hurd, one of the opponents of the F-35 basing proposal for the Burlington International Airport, said he was relieved that Leahy opposes the missile basing proposal. The senator has been a staunch supporter of the F-35 fighter basing plan for the Vermont Air Guard in South Burlington.

“Militarizing Vermont is not what most Vermonters want,” Hurd said. “This country spends 57 percent of its discretionary income on the military at a time when people are losing homes and starving. It’s time to change that equation. To me, it’s just shocking the amount of money spent on the military. These are banana republic type of numbers. Vermont is better than this we have to have a voice.”

Roseanne Greco, a retired Air Force colonel and a South Burlington city councilor who has opposed the F-35 proposal, said the congressional delegation’s push for the new generation of fighter planes would make Vermont a military target. She said a missile defense site in Jericho would have the same effect.

Separately, The Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S. military conducted its first test of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s THAAD missile defense system, intercepting two medium-range ballistic missiles fired nearly simultaneously in the western Pacific.

This article was updated at 1:12 p.m. Thursday and 6:15 a.m. Friday.

Anne Galloway

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  • Linda Quackenbush

    I think we need Vladamir Putin’s permission first before proceeding…

  • rosemarie jackowski

    This is so outrageous, I am speechless.

  • It is pretty remarkable that DoD is pursuing this strategy in 2013. Seems like the rationale behind the resurrection of Star Wars would be something worth VT Digging into…

    • Todd Taylor

      Where have you been? The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (previously SDI, or ‘Star Wars’) was renamed the Missile Defense Agency in 2002.

  • Franklin Lambert

    While the infrastructure of the United States is crumbling, and with the continual increase in the cost of living, it’s making life more and more difficult for the average American, especially seniors and the disabled who are on fixed incomes, not to mentioned college students, most of whom are indebted to the usurious banksters for trying to get an education which supposedly will better their lives, now this.

    Whether the missile base is built at the Ethan Allen NG base, in Ohio, or Oshkosh,for that matter, the logic in promoting it through blatant and very subtle forms of propaganda, the military/industrial/security/police state viewpoint for the aim of the Full Spectrum Dominance advocates who’s goal is to take over the world.

    Alliances are being made, as people around the world are tired of being threatened, bombed, and occupied by the “world’s only super-power”, or a more appropriate term, the “world’s only super-bully” or number one terrorist nation on earth – the United States. The day of reckoning is yet to come. We all reap what we have sown, individually and collectively, for better or for worse. Hubris brought down other empires and it will bring down ours as well.

    • Seth Callander


  • Connie Godin

    I think Maine would be a much better place and is Isreal going to pay for ours, we paid for theirs. Snarky I know but such a bad idea all around.

  • Sandra Bettis

    interesting that shumlin and leahy and sanders and welch are all pro f35 but opposed to this…

    • Todd Taylor

      Here’s your high-tech STEM jobs – take it or leave it.

      • Peter Liston

        paid for by taxpayers.

        let’s buy more expensive jobs. that’s a good economic strategy.

        or we could invest in libraries, schools, roads, rails, bridges … NAH! Let’s just blow some stuff up!

  • Pete Novick

    Dialog from the final scene of Dr. Strangelove:

    General Buck Turgidson – George C. Scott

    President Merkin Muffley – Peter Sellers

    Russian Ambassador Alexi de Sadeski – Peter Bull

    Turgidson (to Muffley):

    I think we should look at this from the military point of view. I mean, supposing the Russkies stashes away some big bomb, see. When they come out in a hundred years they could take over!

    (DeSadeski begins walking away from the crowd around Strangelove and the President, toward the banquet table.)


    I agree, Mr. President. In fact, they might even try an immediate sneak attack so they could take over our mineshaft space.


    Yeah. I think it would be extremely naive of us, Mr. President, to imagine that these new developments are going to cause any change in Soviet expansionist policy. (DeSadeski kneels, unseen, and begins photographing the big board with a secret camera within a pocket watch.) I mean, we must be… increasingly on the alert to prevent them from taking over other mineshaft space, in order to breed more prodigiously than we do, thus, knocking us out in superior numbers when we emerge! Mr. President, we must not allow… a mine shaft gap!

  • Pete Novick

    Before jumping into mid-course intercept – which is about as complex as it gets – try this paper on ballistic missile boost phase intercept written by a Singaporean Air Force officer as his thesis for a masters degree in mechanical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School (2009).

    Have a nice day.

  • Ed McFarren

    It is anticipated that this will bring over 800 jobs to the area. Can organic farms and brew factories do that?

    • Sandra Bettis

      you could also probably live in that town that wanted the nuclear waste just so that they would have jobs….

  • Roz Slater

    Say we…800 jobs? …wow..are those FULLtime..only billions of dollars to build? ..more wasted taxpayer dollars, MIC continues to amaze..only surprise is Pat/Bern/Pete/Pet not on the Pentagon band wagon, giving away Vt’s soul for those 800 the 400 full time jobs they SAY they are saving for Guard with the 1.5 trillion waste of F35. Hypocrisy…Yes, “the people have spoken” Bernie, sick of war. Don’t militarize VT, Do some work and get real jobs for VT. Infrastructure, that would make VT a better place, not a military target.

  • Linda Quackenbush

    Don’t act surprised my fellow Vermonters! We gave up our rights years ago by electing politician who favor statism over the Democratic due processes. Shumlin, Leahy, Sanders and Welch took federal grant monies and implemented massive & expansive projects in the form of Green Mountain Care, Common Core, Smart meter technology & investing in energy renewables. Vermont simply cannot sustain these massive expensive infrastructures of legislation… Jericho’s missile site will come regardless of what Vermonters want… Our government is slowly taking our rights away! It’s time to get rid of of this tyrannical government…

  • Linus Leavens

    Now the real hipocracy begins. F-35’s in So. Burlington are the best thing since sliced bread, but we can’t have missile defense in Jericho…really? Both decisions make the Champlain Valley a 1st strike target. The missile silos are a lot quieter, & would create many good paying jobs. Do we hear the sound of freedom now, or just the squawking of a bunch of chicken-hawks?

    • Linda Quackenbush

      Obama just gave authorization to arm the Syrian rebels without Congressional support! “We’re going to WAR PEOPLE!” This is what happens when a President doesn’t go thru a vetting process…We have an IMPOSTOR in the house…God Bless America!

      • Linda Quackenbush

        Obama was elected for his “likeability” factor…

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