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      Fort Drum to lose combat brigade as part of Army restructuring

      The U.S. Army plans to eliminate one of three combat brigades at northern New York's Fort Drum.

      The cuts announced Tuesday are part of a massive restructuring to slash the number of active duty combat brigades from 45 to 33 and cut the overall size of the Army by 80,000 over several years. The cuts will take place over the next four years. A brigade is about 3,500 soldiers.

      Major General Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum & 10th Mountain Division (LI) Commander confirms the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division will be inactivated by 2017. That will mean the loss of around 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers.

      The 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Spartans, was activated at Fort Drum in September 2004. Since then, they have deployed three times to Afghanistan (2006, 2009, 2011), with one more deployment 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," Major Townsend said. "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."

      State Senator Pattie Ritchie says the region will be impacted by the loss of troops, their families and civilian employees at the post and in surrounding communities. "The potential for additional, even deeper cuts as a result of inaction on the federal budget, referenced repeatedly during the Army??s Pentagon announcement, raises even greater concerns, and makes today??s news a strong wake up call for Congress to act," Ritchie said. "Over the past decade, the North Country came together to support a growing Fort Drum with major military, public and private investment in businesses, services, schools, housing and infrastructure. These investments created a foundation not just for Fort Drum, but for a stronger local economy as well. Today??s announcement gives us a timeline so that we can strengthen those partnerships, and find ways to sustain our economic growth, and continue to create jobs, both on and off the post," she said.

      Fort Drum, which sprawls over 107,000 acres near the Canadian border, is home to the 10th Mountain Division. It was expanded in 2005, even as 180 other installations around the country were closed. It was the only major New York post to survive closures that claimed Plattsburgh Air Force Base in 1995 and Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome in 1993.

      Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.