WASHINGTON — By the time Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley takes command at Fort Drum Nov. 4, he should be a familiar face to north country lawmakers.
Gen. Milley has visited in recent weeks with Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Plans are in the works for a meeting with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
The meetings give Gen. Milley a chance to mix briefly with lawmakers who will be representing Fort Drum’s and the Army’s interests in Congress and also gives lawmakers an opportunity to gauge the post’s needs as the military faces budget cuts that could dig into base operations.
Mr. Owens has met twice with Gen. Milley — once in the congressman’s Capitol Hill office, then again at a reception at the Association of the United States Army earlier this month. He met with Sen. Gillibrand last week.
A spokesman for Mr. Schumer said the two have been trying to set up a meeting; Gen. Milley is assigned at the Pentagon as deputy director of the Joint Staff until his new job begins.
Mr. Owens said he and Gen. Milley have spoken about expanding Fort Drum’s mission, a goal reflected in the new use of Drum for Reaper drone practice flights, for instance. That was also a topic for Mrs. Gillibrand, a spokeswoman for the senator said.
Both lawmakers are on the congressional Armed Services committees.
Mrs. Gillibrand and Gen. Milley talked about expanding the Northeast training center for the National Guard and Reserve, and cybersecurity and its importance to Fort Drum’s mission, said her spokeswoman, Bethany Lesser.
Mrs. Gillibrand is watching for possible cutbacks at installations as the Defense Department looks for hundreds of billions of dollars in savings. The Army is also preparing for an already-planned cut in endstrength that will bring the service down to 520,000 soldiers or fewer, from around 569,000, over five years.
Where those cuts will fall has not been determined, and the size of the cuts are uncertain and depend upon congressional action. In the buildup of the past decade, the 10th Mountain Division gained a fourth brigade — but it was placed at Fort Polk, La., rather than at Fort Drum.
Gen. Milley has historical perspective on Fort Drum, having served there as a brigade combat team commander in 2003 and 2004 and as a major during the division’s mission in Haiti in the mid 1990s.