Washington – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) spoke on the House floor about Fort Drum, her recent visit to the Middle East and the damaging effects that the sequester is having on our military. A transcript of her remarks is below, or to watch video, click here.

I rise today to recognize and honor the 10th Mountain Division, their service to Fort Drum, the 21st District of New York, our North Country community and our nation.

For thirty years now, the brave men and women of the 10th Mountain Division have stood in harm’s way to protect and defend our country.

Since September 11th, 2001, the 10th Mountain Division has been the most actively deployed division to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Too many of our soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in service.

As leaders in Congress, we have an obligation to protect and serve our constituents and members of our armed forces.

We cannot repay the debt we owe these service members and their families, but we can work to honor their legacy and recognize what they have done for us.

We must protect the promises we have made to these brave individuals and strengthen our nation’s commitment to helping them as they return from combat.

In Congress, I will do everything I can to protect the interests of Fort Drum and to ensure the 10th Mountain Division has the necessary resources they need to do their work.

It is critical for Fort Drum and the entire 21st Congressional District to have a voice at the table to fight on behalf of our military families and veterans.

To that end, I am honored to serve on the House Armed Services Committee as the Vice-Chair for the Subcommittee on Readiness, and as a member of the Subcommittees on Personnel and Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

As a member of these subcommittees, I will work  to ensure the Defense Department, our troops and Fort Drum have the necessary tools they require to defend our nation from those that wish to do us harm.

However, we continue to see threats to our national security increase, and reductions to our military remain due to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

These substantial budget cuts will have significant negative impacts to Ft. Drum and the U.S. military.

Under sequestration, the Pentagon’s proposal states that Fort Drum could lose up to 16,000 soldiers and civilian jobs.

This loss of jobs would have severe and devastating effects to the installation, the North Country community and New York.

General Dempsey and our military leaders have declared time and time again that sequestration reduces our armed forces readiness and their capabilities.

And it unnecessarily puts our men and women in uniform at increased risk.

Here we expect our service men and women to protect our nation; however the imposed budget cuts, due to sequestration, inhibit their readiness and threaten our national security.

It is our duty to ensure our nation is protected,  and in doing so, maintain the operational readiness of our military.

I pledge to work to preserve and strengthen our nation’s armed forces and follow in the footsteps of Representative John McHugh by advocating for our troops and veterans stationed in the 21st District of New York and in our surrounding communities.

Two weeks ago I had the honor to attend a small congressional delegation visit to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

On this trip, I was privileged to meet with soldiers who are based out of Fort Drum as well as many others who have trained there.

What an opportunity it was to visit with the troops from the Resolute Support Head Quarters Forces, USFOR-A Soldiers and Counterterrorism Operations Forces.

I thanked them for their service and discussed ways we can work to strengthen and protect Ft. Drum for our district.

This trip was truly essential in order for me to gain a personal perspective of the circumstances under which so many of our brave soldiers from Fort Drum have served abroad.

Additionally, I was able to meet with many important foreign dignitaries, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and Iraqi President Fuad Masum to discuss issues of concern to the region.

These nations and their leaders play a key role in the effort among Arab nations to combat ISIS and other terrorist organizations.

The discussions and meetings with these dignitaries were informative and useful.

I believe that continued open dialogue and conversation with these leaders will be incredibly beneficial to maintain and establish our nation’s perspective on defense policy.

This trip gave me a chance to hear from our service men and women on the ground and other national leaders about real solutions related to stabilizing the region, continued threats to our own national security, the readiness of our armed forces and the tools they need to keep our country safe.

Serving the Fort Drum community in Congress and as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee is an incredible honor. I am beyond thankful to our men and women in uniform and grateful to their families for their service to our country.

Thank you to you and your loved ones for keeping our nation safe.