U.S. Reps. Katko, Hanna, Stefanik unite to protect Fort Drum, 174th Attack Wing from Pentagon cuts
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Three Republican members of Congress from Central and Northern New York say they will work together to protect Fort Drum and the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field from personnel losses in future Pentagon budget cuts.
U.S. Reps. John Katko, R-Camillus, Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, and Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, plan to tour both bases on Tuesday as part of their effort to show a united front in Congress against the cuts.
Stefanik serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and could be a strong voice with Katko and Hanna in the GOP majority to advocate for the bases.
The Army is in the process of holding hearings at 30 bases across the nation to receive feedback from communities about the potential cuts. The hearing about Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, will be 5 p.m. March 20 at Jefferson Community College in Watertown.
The Army is studying the potential impact of reducing its force by an additional 16,000 soldiers and civilian employees at each of nine bases nationwide. The study will present a worst-case scenario of the most extreme cuts if Congress allows the federal sequester budget cuts to remain in place.
The Army says it is required to plan for the extreme cuts as part of the sequester. At its worst, Army officials said, they would have to pare the force from 562,000 soldiers to 420,000.
Fort Drum officials this week released a report showing the base near Watertown had an economic impact of about $1.3 billion on the region in 2014. The base is home to 17,269 soldiers and 18,383 family members, according to the report.
Since fiscal 1988, Fort Drum has infused more than $21 billion into New York's economy, the report said.
Fort Drum's size was already reduced by about 1,500 soldiers as part of a 2013 Army decision to inactivate a combat brigade at the base. Those cutbacks were part of an existing Army plan to cut its overall number of combat brigades from 45 to 33, reducing the size of the Army by 80,000 soldiers by 2017.