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Gatehouse at Fort Drum. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Gatehouse at Fort Drum. Photo: Mark Kurtz

NY, VT reps concerned over impact of proposed defense cuts

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced a plan yesterday to shrink the Army to pre-WWII levels. It would include closing military bases and making other military-wide savings as part of a broad reshaping of priorities.

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Ft. Drum, near Watertown, is already scheduled for a cut in active duty troop numbers. A press release in June put the "net loss" of troops at "somewhere between 1500 and 2000 Soldiers," and a projection late last year put the decrease of the total base population over the next few years at 12 percent, or 2,800 people, including civilian personnel. It isn't clear how the plan announced yesterday would affect the post.

Hagel says the military must adjust to the reality of smaller budgets, even as the United States faces a more volatile, more unpredictable world that requires a more nimble military.

North Country Congressman Bill Owens told the Watertown Daily Times he thinks "what we're hearing is a description of the 10th Mountain Division."

The assumption is that they'll be looking at everything, and everything includes Fort Drum.
Carl McLaughlin, the head of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, told the newspaper the community will be watching for details. "The assumption," he said, "is that they'll be looking at everything, and everything includes Fort Drum."

Vermont's two United States senators are expressing displeasure and concern over proposed cuts to the National Guard. Sen. Patrick Leahy, co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus, says any planned long-term cut to Army National Guard "guts our citizen-soldier force."

Sen. Bernie Sanders told WPTZ in a statement, "we should be growing - rather than shrinking - the National Guard" because of its cost-efficiency.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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