Washington, D.C. - In case you missed it, today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, demanded that Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Lieutenant General Heath Collins use the $10 million Congresswoman Stefanik secured via the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to begin the planning and design of a third missile defense site at Fort Drum, the DoD’s preferred location for a third missile defense site.

In the FY24 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congresswoman Stefanik secured a $10M increase for the MDA to conduct planning and design for a third missile defense site at Fort Drum. In the FY24 NDAA, Congresswoman Stefanik led an effort to include report language that states this additional money should be used for “military construction planning and design activities needed to construct a missile defense interceptor site at Fort Drum, New York.” In 2019, the Department of Defense designated Fort Drum as the preferred location for an East Coast missile defense site. The United States’ missile defense architecture is currently aging and a third site would provide additional missile defense coverage to protect our homeland. 


Watch her line of questioning here.

Read a full transcript of her line of questioning below:

Congresswoman Stefanik: “First I would like to correct the record. Earlier in this hearing, the ranking member said that the Department of Defense chose Fort Drum as the preferred missile defense site for the third homeland missile defense site nearly ten years ago. That is incorrect despite the fact that you said that’s correct. General Collins, you are aware that the date that that was designated was 2019, correct?

Lieutenant General Heath Collins: “Yes, ma’am.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “So the ten years ago was incorrect.”

Lieutenant General Collins: “Yes, ma’am. Four years ago.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: Great. You are also aware that just last year, General Milley and Vice Admiral Hill testified in front of this Committee that the construction of a third site at Fort Drum would be strategically worthwhile, correct? You’re aware of that testimony?”

Lieutenant General Collins: “Yes, ma’am.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “And you’re also aware that in multiple NDAAs, the language designating Fort Drum as the preferred third site for East Coast missile defense site has been included in multiple NDAAs, you’re aware of that?” 

Lieutenant General Collins: “Yes, ma’am.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: And just let the record reflect the Ranking Member voted in support of that language, not once but multiple times, as well as voted for Appropriations as did the majority of members of this Committee. Now, in the FY14 Appropriations Act and the NDAA, we worked to secure $10 million in planning and design funds for the Missile Defense Agency to begin construction activities for a third homeland missile defense site at Fort Drum. My question to you, General Collins, is: As the Director of MDA, can you confirm to me that this $10 million is being used at Fort Drum as dictated by Congress as explicitly stated by Congress at Fort Drum to begin the planning and design of a third missile defense site? ” 

Lieutenant General Collins: “Ma’am, that $10 million has been authorized and appropriated for that purpose, and that’s the purpose we’re executing it for.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “And what are you using that for?”

Lieutenant General Collins: “That is to do the initial planning and development of a design for continental interceptor site to take it to the 10 percent design level?”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “At Fort Drum?”

Lieutenant General Collins: We are pursuing an agnostic design that would support–”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “That’s not what the language said.”

Lieutenant General Collins: “By doing it as an agnostic site, we would not slow down the capability to do it at Fort Drum.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “That’s not what the language that was passed by Congress said. And you understand that in the NDAA, for multiple years, it had designated Fort Drum. There were three sites under consideration in three different states. There was a process, an environmental impact study. This has been a very thorough process. And so you're saying to me today that the $10 million is not designated at Fort Drum for the planning and design?”

Lieutenant General Collins: “It is. It supports a continental interceptor site at any location that's determined to be optimal in the future in line with the 2019 memo that the department signed out.” 

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Designating Fort Drum.”

Lieutenant General Collins: Fort Drum, and it also designated that when a requirement was set for a continental site that there would have to be a readdress and a reassessment of location based on performance.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Even though you said in my office when we met, General Collins, in my office, that you understood that the $10 million would go to the design and planning at Fort Drum, as specified by the NDAA.”

Lieutenant General Collins: “When a decision, if a decision is made to pursue a Fort Drum site, the $10 million will be 100 percent in line with being able to accomplish that.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: “But you do understand that multiple NDAAs Fort Drum has been designated, as well as by DoD.”  

Lieutenant General Collins: “I’m aware, ma’am, of the report the Department signed out and the previous NDAAs.”

Congresswoman Stefanik: Okay, great. With that, I will yield back.”