With the Army facing major cuts to the number of soldiers, many in the North Country are worried about how that could affect their businesses and their lives. Fort Drum held a community town hall last week to address those concerns. Talking to a smaller but similar crowd, Wednesday, Congressman Bill Owens expressed a confidence that Fort Drum wouldn't be hurt, reasoning he shared with our Brian Dwyer.
RUTLAND, N.Y. -- A couple hundred people filed into Case Middle School last week. Each and every one passionate about how Fort Drum affects them.
As the Army prepares to cut 80,000 of its 570,000 soldiers, many say the turnout was a huge help for Fort Drum's future.
"That message goes back from this community." Carl McLaughlin of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization said. "We're supportive. We can do whatever is necessary. We'll even do more."
Wednesday, North Country Congressman Bill Owens was speaking to a group of Rotary members in Rutland. Many of them were at that listening session.
He not only expressed gratitude for all that spoke up, but was very confident in telling everyone that he now expects Fort Drum to be spared and perhaps 'even do more.'
"It's a combination of conversations I've had with many senior officials at DoD," Rep. Owens said. "In addition to that, I'm not hearing rumors from the HASC senior staff, from the Appropriations senior staff that would indicate that type of negative activity would be forthcoming to Fort Drum."
Owens adds that of course he's not 100 percent sure and things do change, but he says several things help his argument. The Grey Eagle Drone program coming to Drum. The fact it's still an option for missile defense. And maybe the biggest reason, the way it's performed during these two long wars.
"I'm very confident that Fort Drum is not going to suffer any negative consequences out of this realignment," Owens said.
That statement is music to a lot of people's ears.
"We are a great installation," McLaughlin said. "We fit well in where the Army needs to go and lets hope it all comes together just like that."
McLaughlin adding that Fort Drum has incredible training ranges and facilities making it no only a local treasure, but something the nation truly needs at full strength.
Owens says it'll likely be a couple of months before anything official comes down on the post's future.