Dear Members and Friends,
MDAA had the distinct honor and pleasure to meet, engage and tour with the
U.S. Soldiers and commanding officers of the 49th Missile Defense Battalion
at the missile fields in Fort Greely, Alaska. Every hour of every day these men
and women operate our nation’s Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI) that protect
and keep safe the 50 states of our union from long-range ballistic missiles. The
experience was memorable, unique and informative, and I had the opportunity to
walk on the three missile fields, to go down into the silos, to see the interceptor
missiles, to visit the underground infrastructure and to see the firing control
center and witness a missile defense simulation of how these solders operate this
On a clear, early fall day in Alaska where the foliage had begun to change colors
to yellow and orange, set against the backdrop of the Alaskan Range and the
snow capped Mount Hays, off the remote wilderness of the Delta River and its plains,
lays the 800 acre post of Fort Greely. About 1,600 people work on the post with
200 of them in uniform. The post has four major operations headed by US Army
Lt Colonel Chris Chronis.Warfighting operations of the current 20 plus GBIs is headed
by the US Army, led by Lt Colonel Steve Connelly and 200 soldiers of the 49th battalion.
The acquisition, development research and deployment of that missile defense
system is led by the Missile Defense Agency. The winter testing grounds
for Army equipment and training is at Wainwright Army Base, and it includes
the operations and upkeep of the base including the air transport airport.
The town nearby is located at the 1,442 mile official end of the Alaskan Highway
called Delta Junction.
This location was originally surveyed to hold five missile fields of 20 defensive
missiles each for a total of 100 missiles. Today, there are missiles and construction
in three of those fields. In chronological order of deployment, it includes Missile
Field One, Missile Field Three and Missile Field Two.
The first missile field has six active silos with the first six interceptors and
it was put in place as a testing bed only and then put forward to be operational
as well. This field is designed with infrastructure to maintain only six silos and
is the oldest missile field. Though there have been applied lessons learned with
the infrastructure heating and cooling of all these first silos, they and the missiles
in them are fully capable; however it should be noted that their cost of maintenance
and sustainment is much higher than the newer fields.
Missile Field Three has the full complement of the original design to have two
rows of 10 silos and the supporting infrastructure to heat and cool all of the silos.
These silos are continually being filled with our newest GBIs until there is a full
complement of 20 in place.
Missile Field Two is under construction and is laid out with two rows of seven
silos currently and an engineering heating and cooling building and infrastructure
to maintain and sustain the 14 Silos and their respective missiles. This is similar
to Missile Field Three, with the exception of not having started the silo construction
for the missing two extended rows of three silos to match the full complement of
20 silos and missiles in Missile Field Three.
Thus currently, more than $10 billion of our tax dollars has been spent for the
GMD system to include the silos and missiles which are in place and under
construction today at Fort Greely. This does not include the four GBIs in
Vandenberg Air Force Base, California for a total of 40 silos, missiles and
engineering infrastructure to support them. The total amount of GBIs including
California would be 44 if construction of Missile Field Two was to be fully
completed with 14 missiles and silos.
The current Administration and the Secretary of Defense have stated that
they will reduce the long-range ballistic missile protection for the US
Homeland to 30 Ground-Based Interceptors. This would include four at
Vandenberg AFB and 26 out of the 40 silos to be in place at Fort Greely.
This represents a reduction of 14 missiles and 31.8 percent of our current
Regardless of the Department of Defense’s threat perceptions that seem
to fluctuate politically even as North Korea has continued to launch
multiple range ballistic missiles, including long-range, as well as two
detonations of a nuclear devices and Iran which has space launch capable
rockets while continuing to develop its nuclear technology.
The American tax payer who has invested over $10 billion dollars in this
system, a system that is close to 90 percent complete which would include
the full complement of close to 54 GBIs for deployment and testing.
It is a significant waste of US taxpayer funds to deconstruct or “moth ball”
Missile Field One and to not fully complete construction of Missile Field Two
which is in the midst of construction with all the prefabricated Silo Interface Vaults
(SIVs) already purchased and has the maintenance and electrical building
complex to heat, cool and run 14 silos with their respective missiles.
Moreover, if construction were stopped and if the Secretary of Defense as
he stated would readdress the threat, and if found that 30 GBIs were not enough
would move to build more. The future cost of construction and deployment to the
US taxpayers would be 3 to 5 times more than it would be today to finish the
$10 billion plus project at a cost of a little over $100 million dollars.
To not fully finish building the 14 silos at Fort Greely would seem to be a purely
politically driven decision and should be seen as such, as it is a fundamental
misuse of oversight of U.S. tax dollars, as it makes no fiscal sense to stop construction.
It significantly increases the risk to our homeland and national security (a reduction
of 31.8 percent of the defensive missile force) that we as a nation need not take in
order to stay ahead of Iran and North Korea which are progressing in both
development and deployment of their own missiles.
If 30 deployed GBI’s is the hard and immovable number of GBIs this
Administration stands on, why not finish the construction of all the 14 silos in
Missile Field Two for the economic sense for the US tax payer and the decision to
deploy the Administration’s 26 GBIs for Fort Greely amongst the 40 completed
silos there? Thus having the core costs and construction time taken care if this
or a future Secretary of Defense decides to increase that number from 30 GBIs
as the perception of the threat evolves. This scenario would also allow Missile Field
One with six silos to go back to its core mission of testing as originally conceived, as
five of those six silos were put in place as a testing and validation system.
We at MDAA had the distinct honor of visiting the site at Fort Greely, Alaska,
talking with the soldiers that operate this system, touring the missile fields, seeing
the construction and understanding of this complex issue.
We urge and advocate good fiscal oversight of U.S. tax dollars and not to
increase the risk to our homeland, our nation and our people when we don’t have to.
The 49th Battalion, all 200 of them, believe and value their mission of protecting
our nation with heart and passion. Their post at Fort Greely is vital, not only that the
operation of these tremendous assets are seen in that light, the protection of them
is just as important as they say at the 49th “Missile defense starts with the fence first”.
On behalf of our members throughout our nation, we are thankful for and greatly
appreciate the sacrifice of our nation’s soldiers of the 49th Battalion at Fort Greely,