Rep. Elise Stefanik, NY congressional delegation to defense secretary: Protect Fort Drum from cuts
he entire New York congressional delegation is supporting an effort spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik to protect Fort Drum, home of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, ahead of a listening session Friday on the future of the base.
Stefanik, R-Willsboro, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer and New York's House members sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to highlight the importance of Fort Drum to the North Country and the state.
"Fort Drum is a critical and imperative installation to our U.S. armed forces because of its training facilities and capabilities, power projection, quality of life, expansibility and geographic distribution," the delegation wrote. "The installation is home to the 10th Mountain Division, the Army's most deployed division since 1990. The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division and is comprised of confident, resilient and competent warriors."
Friday's hearing at Jefferson Community College will give the Fort Drum community an opportunity to discuss how cuts to the base would affect the area.
Fort Drum is home to 17,269 soldiers and 18,383 family members, according to the latest economic impact statement. There are approximately 3,800 civilian employees who work at the base.
The concern about cuts to Fort Drum stems from spending restrictions established in the Budget Control Act of 2011. While House leaders will include more defense funding in its budget proposal, there isn't agreement on how to address automatic cuts, which would occur if spending eclipses the cap.
Last week, Stefanik joined U.S. Reps. Richard Hanna and John Katko for tours of Fort Drum and the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field. During visits to the facilities, the trio pledged to protect New York's bases from defense cuts.
Hanna, R-Barnveld, Katko, R-Camillus, Stefanik and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson attended a reception Thursday to support Fort Drum. Stefanik, who represents Fort Drum in Congress, plans on attending the listening session Friday.
Stefanik won't be the only federal or state official with a presence at Friday's event.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has a sent a video that will be played at the hearing. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and state agency commissioners will attend a rally for Fort Drum and the listening session.
The rally will be held at 5 p.m. at JCC. The listening session is scheduled for 6 p.m.