Ravenna – Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center (Ohio Army National Guard) is one of four new sites being considered by Congress as an “East Coast” national missile defense location. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) hosted an informational open house for the public at Ravenna High School gymnasium on August 5, with representatives posted by various placards to answer questions from the public. An environmental impact statement is also being prepared for presentation to Congress.
If the local site is selected, ground-based interceptor missiles would be transported along public roads from Akron-Canton Regional Airport or Youngstown Air Reserve Station to Camp Ravenna. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Snipes said the 55-foot-long, 22-27-ton solid propellant missiles would be housed in 20 underground interceptor silos (missile defense complex), with possible future expansion of up to 60 such silos housed under Camp Ravenna’s 22,000 acres. Their range would be up to 10,000 kilometers to intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile.
During the public meeting, if a civilian wanted their concerns expressed in a formal report to Congress, they could fill out a survey form or speak to a court reporter stationed in a corner of the gym. People opposed to the missile interceptor site being located at Camp Ravenna taped paper bulls-eye symbols to their shirts, saying that Portage County is too densely populated for such a purpose, property values would plummet, and the community would become an attack target if the missile site were located here. They also voiced concerns that the large number of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) waste injection wells in Ohio makes the state more prone to seismic activity, which may not be a stable environment for ground-based missiles.
The other federally-owned locations under consideration include Fort Custer Army National Guard Base in Michigan, SERE East Navy Base in Maine, and Fort Drum Army Installation on New York. Thirty ground-based interceptor missiles currently stand at the ready for homeland defense from Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg AFB in California. Aegis warships are equipped to deploy sea-based interceptor missiles.
In what was termed by MDA representative Ken Anderson as a “capabilities race” rather than an arms race, these additional East Coast sites are being submitted to Congress for consideration in order to bolster the homeland’s capacity to defend itself “against threats from nations such as North Korea and Iran.”
According to an MDA Fact Sheet, “One of the greatest threats facing the world today is the increasing proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.”
The estimated $1-$5 billion proposed Ballistic Missile Defense System at Camp Ravenna would “engage and destroy limited intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats in space,” intercepting and destroying them before they reach their intended targets. In doing so, the MDA says, “The ultimate goal of missile defense is to convince aggressors that ballistic missiles are not militarily useful or a worthy investment and place doubt in the minds of potential aggressors that a ballistic attack against the U.S. or its allies can succeed.”
Camp Ravenna — formerly the Ravenna Arsenal — was used by the Army during World War II, employing up to 18,000 people to manufacture bombs and projectiles. The site became a National Guard training center in 1971 and now is used to train troops for deployments. Proponents of the missile defense plan see it as an opportunity for Camp Ravenna to be fully utilized again, with the potential for economic benefits for Portage and Trumbull counties.
Of the four sites under deliberation, none is “preferred,” but all meet the criteria for consideration. The environmental impact statement for Camp Ravenna could take up to two years to complete, assessing potential environmental changes on land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors. The Department of Defense has not made decision to deploy or construct the CIS at this time. This proposal is considered a fact-finding mission in response to Congress’ request in December 2013 for this study to be conducted.
For more details, go to www.mda.mil. Members of the public can respond to this proposal through September 15. Email comments to MDA.CIS.EIS@BV.com, fax to (913) 458-1091 or mail a written letter to Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp., ATTN: MDA CIS EIS, 6601 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS 66211-1504.