Feedback: Budget Cuts Coming To Fort Drum

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On Friday, soldiers from Fort Drum's 1st and 2nd brigade combat teams prepared their colors for deployment to Afghanistan.

The federal government has promised to fund their mission, but the same can't be said for those left behind.

"The most immediate threat to our ability to achieve our mission is fiscal uncertainty, not knowing what our budget will be," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Panetta has asked all military services halt civilian hiring and to cut back on non-mission critical training and maintenance as a precautionary measure. 

(See our earlier report)

Major General Stephen Townsend, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, says the hiring freeze will hurt Fort Drum.

"We always have civilian turnover here just like we have turnover on military personnel, so that will have some affect on us as well," said General Townsend.

However, the general predicts Fort Drum will suffer less than other installations because of a promise to fund training and equipment that gets troops ready to deploy.

"That's what Fort Drum is going to be doing for the next year, year and a half. The 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum will continue to be involved in Afghanistan and so I think we'll see lower funding decrements here," said Townsend.

In a statement, north country Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 21st District) called the secretary's actions premature. 

"It is absolutely critical for installations like Fort Drum that Congress put forward a responsible plan to address federal spending cuts immediately and protect military assets here at home," Owens said.

It's not clear how much the cuts will save. 

Meanwhile,  the mission continues at Fort Drum. 

Troops will continue to deploy throughout the month.

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Saturday, December 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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