The decision to have all U.S. troops leave Iraq by the end of the year won't have an immediate impact on Fort Drum, because none of the 10th Mountain Division's soldiers are currently deployed there.
But the division has been an integral part of the nine-year war, and until recently, more division troops had died in Iraq than in Afghanistan — where Fort Drum soldiers continue to fight (more on this in the statements from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand).
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Mrs. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., issued statements on President Obama's decision.
Here's Mr. Owens' statement:
“As American service members in Iraq return home to their families this holiday season, the thanks of a grateful nation is with them. I am glad to see the war in Iraq wind down to a responsible end, and proud of all that was accomplished by the heroes who served. It is incumbent upon us to honor their service by supporting the men and women still engaged overseas, and creating an environment where veterans of these armed conflicts can find work, support their families and enjoy the benefits they have earned when they come home.”
And Mrs. Gillibrand's, which pivots quickly from the war in Iraq to the war in Afghanistan:
“I commend President Obama for responsibly ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home. But we must also re-focus on our national security interests in Afghanistan and bring our combat troops from there as well after a full decade at war. Drawing down the war in Afghanistan with just 10,000 combat troops coming home this year is not fast enough. As I have advocated throughout this year, it is time to shift course in Afghanistan to a counter-terrorism mission with an aggressive drawdown of combat troops. In the decade since the start of this war, al-Qaeda has metastasized, expanding and strengthening its influence across the globe, and our most imminent threat in the past few years does not stem from Afghanistan. It is time for leaders in Afghanistan to take responsibility for their security, and the United States needs to adjust the fight against terrorism to the most current threat environment.”