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The former Ravenna arsenal is on a short list to be the future location of a ballistic missile interceptor base, federal officials said Thursday.
Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center is one of five sites being considered by the Department of Defense and the Missile Defense Agency as an interceptor deployment site, it was announced by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan. The training center is about two miles east of Ravenna and consists of the 21,418-acre former World War II army ammunition plant now used by the Ohio Army National Guard for training.
The other sites being considered include Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Vermont; SERE Training Area at Naval Air Station Portsmouth, Maine; Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan and Fort Drum in New York.
The interceptors are a ground-based missile system designed to intercept ballistic missiles. The two active interceptor sites are at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Ryan's office said it is "very early news" and the start of a long-term process which will see the list of five cut to maybe two or three sites.
The Missile Defense System will gather additional information about the site, including an on-site visit, before deciding which sites will advance to the next round of consideration.
Sites that are selected for the next round will undergo environmental studies which will take an additional 18 to 24 months, Ryan's office said.
The site selected would benefit from construction jobs to build the site and gain new jobs for well-paid engineers and technicians who maintain the sites.
In making the announcement, Ryan said, "This would be a great opportunity for Camp Ravenna and the State of Ohio to benefit from Department of Defense investments, leading to increased employment in both the construction phase and sustaining operational employment," Ryan said. "While no final decision will be made for some time, I am pleased that we are one of the sites being considered."
Sen. Sherrod Brown also applauded the announcement. "I'm encouraged that the Department of Defense continues to look to Ravenna for future national security missions. Should we get to a point where the Department decides an additional missile defense site in the United States is needed and viable, I'm confident that Camp Ravenna will prove to be a valuable asset."
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act requires a siting study and environmental impact statement.
According to the Reuters news agency, defense officials said no decision had been made to build an additional site for missile interceptors, and there was no money in the Pentagon's future budget plans for such a site. The cost of building a new site would be well over $1 billion and possibly as much as $5 billion, Reuters said
Reuters quoted Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, as saying military officials were concerned whether budget cuts made by sequestration will jeopardize plans to add missiles to an existing site in Alaska.
The law calls for the Pentagon to cut its projected spending by $500 billion over the next decade, on top of $487 billion in cuts already planned.
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Facebook: Mike Sever, Record-Courier