The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) will conduct a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, June 15, 2002, at Ft. Greely, Alaska, to mark the start of initial construction for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Test Bed, an important step in the overall U.S. missile defense development program. The purpose of the test bed is to provide the facilities necessary to test and evaluate a wide range of GMD support programs and systems, including construction techniques, missile maintenance and training procedures and to analyze GMD missile interceptor and command and control systems under arctic conditions.
The GMD program, formerly known as National Missile Defense, is a development and testing program designed to examine and evaluate the technologies necessary to provide a defense against long-range ballistic missiles that could carry weapons of mass destruction. The test bed facility at Ft. Greely is not intended as a deployment site for an operational system at this time. However, its central Alaska location provides an optimum location for an operational system if a decision is made to deploy a GMD interceptor force.
Ft. Greely is located approximately 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks in the City of Delta Junction. News media interested in covering the event are requested to arrive at the Ft. Greely Main Gate not later than 9:15 a.m. Alaska time. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. There are no plans for a news conference. Due to current worldwide security considerations, media organizations are required to provide MDA's Site Activation Command-Alaska with the names of reporters and camera/equipment operators covering the event by Thursday, June 13, 2002.
News media point of contact in Alaska is Ralph Scott at (907) 384-7705. News media point of contact in Washington is Lt. Col. Rick Lehner at (703) 697-8997.