Feedback: Drum To Lose 1,500 To 2,000 Troops

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The Pentagon says Fort Drum will be losing its 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Fort Drum Commander Major General Stephen Townsend said the net loss could be between 1,500 and 2,000 soldiers.

"Even with the loss of a brigade, I don't expect the overall reduction to have a significant impact here at Fort Drum as we expect additional maneuver battalions to be assigned to our remaining brigades. After the addition of these units to the remaining brigades, we expect the net loss to be somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 soldiers," said Townsend in a prepared statement.

The Pentagon announced a reorganization of the Army Tuesday. 

The 3rd BCT will be inactivated by 2017 and its remaining troops will be absorbed into the 1st and 2nd Brigades. 

The 3rd BCT, known as the Spartans, was activated at Fort Drum in September 2004.

Since then, the Spartans have deployed three times to Afghanistan.

One more deployment is anticipated before inactivation.

"The soldiers of 3BCT epitomize the combined spirit of the legendary Spartans of ancient Greece and the courageous 10th Mountain veterans of World War-II. Their history will be recorded and remembered as our history, the heroism, expertise and sacrifice of the Spartan Brigade will not be forgotten," said Townsend.

The 3rd BCT is made up of roughly 3,500 soldiers.

Fort Drum is home to approximately 19,000 troops.

The cuts will take place over four years and represent about 9 percent of Drum's forces.

"The net loss of about 1,500 folks over a four year period with extended dwell time, like has no material impact on the mission nor any material impact on the economy," said north country Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 23rd District).

Speaking at a briefing Tuesday afternoon, Army Chief of Staff Geneeral Ray Odierno confirmed Fort Drum will lose a brigade combat team, as the Army goes from 45 to 33 BCTs total.

See national map of reorganizaiton plan

"We'll reinvest some of the soldiers and support personnel into the remaining brigade combat teams," Odierno said.

The cuts are part of an overall Army plan to reduce the size of its force by 80,000, a number that was agreed to as part of a budget deal in 2011.

"I am committed to ensuring Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division remain a strong asset for the Army, and for the North Country economy. I have been in direct contact with Army leaders to make sure they know the full value Fort Drum provides for our military, and will continue to fight my hardest to keep Fort Drum in a position of strength," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D. - NY). 

The other home of the 10th, Fort Polk, Louisiana, will not lose its brigade, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu told television station KPLC.

Tuesday's cuts are separate from sequestration, which forced civilian employees to lose a day of pay over 11 days this year.

It's also separate from the "BRAC" process of closing bases, which the military wants but which Congress has blocked for the coming year.

While Tuesday's cuts were not part of sequestration, Odierno warned that if sequestration continues, Tuesday's cuts "will only be the first step."

The loss of 1,500 soldiers, while painful, is a far cry from the worst possible case that had been speculated on - 8,000 soldiers being cut.

"The announcement is disappointing. However, it is not as bad as it might have been," said Carl McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.

Tuesday's news, while not welcome, is likely to be viewed as Drum and the north country having dodged potentially ruinous cuts.

Tony Keating, the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, said, "The news was, while not good, no worse than we anticipated."

 

See Pentagon news release

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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