Upton Backs Fort Custer for Missile Defense
Investments Could Add $3B to Local Economy, 300 Jobs
If a rogue nation like Iran or North Korea can send a long-range ballistic missile to hit the Eastern portion of the United States, the country should have a system in place to defend itself, says Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph.
The U.S. Department of Defense, through its Missile Defense Agency, is considering the Fort Custer Training Center in Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties as one of four possible locations to place an interceptor site capable of shielding the United States from such an attack. Upton strongly backs the local location as his choice, he said Thursday during the public scooping meeting at The Great Hall at the Sherman Lake YMCA in Augusta.
“Look, the technology exists for rogue nations – and well-funded terrorist organizations like ISIS -- to send a ballistic missile to try to knock out the Eastern Seaboard and other parts of the United States,” says Upton, who is also chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “It’s not a question of if the Iranians or North Koreans will acquire such capabilities it’s a matter of when. But fortunately, we have the technology to knock that missile out of the sky. For such a critical national security mission, where better than Fort Custer?
“We’re talking about an investment of more than $3 billion dollars that could provide 300 full-time jobs and 1,800 project jobs during the life of construction that could go on for several years. In addition, having the Missile Defense Agency here would help secure Fort Custer’s place in the military hierarchy.”
The Fort Custer Training Center straddles the Kalamazoo and Calhoun county lines, which falls in part of Upton’s district.
The Thursday night public meeting was to inform area residents of the potential project and review the scope of the environmental impact statement if the interceptor site is to be located at Fort Custer.
Upton personally toured the two potential deployment sites at Fort Custer before attending the evening’s public meeting.
“No doubt the folks at the Missile Defense Agency have been impressed by what they’ve seen here in Southwest Michigan and the warm welcome they’ve received. Fort Custer has a lot to offer in the way of being able to accommodate the requirements of ground-based defense system,” Upton said. “What’s more, our region comes readily equipped with the infrastructure – transportation, energy, housing, you name it – that a project of this magnitude requires.”
Three other sites are under consideration in Maine, Ohio and New York state. While the Department of Defense has not made a decision to construct continental interceptor site, the Missile Defense Agency has been asked by Congress to investigate each site.
“I’m sure the local and state governments are going to be able to work out what is necessary to try to bring this to Fort Custer,” Upton said. “Gov. Snyder is on record backing it. It’s going to bring good jobs to the area and a sense of peace the country.
“The program should be located here.”