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North country lawmakers supportive of Obama plans for Afghanistan

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CANTON - News of the president’s plans for future operations in Afghanistan was met positively by north country congressional lawmakers.

“I am pleased that the President is moving forward with the recommendations of our military leaders,” U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said in a statement. “This is welcome news for many New York soldiers and their families to whom our nation owes a great debt for the enormous sacrifices they have made during our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand said her office was reviewing the details of the president’s proposal, but added that the senator “has been a longtime and vocal advocate for bringing all our combat troops home.”

Emails and calls to the office of Sen. Charles E. Schumer seeking comment were not returned Tuesday afternoon.

There are about 3,000 Fort Drum soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, between the 10th Mountain Division’s headquarters to its 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 10th Sustainment Brigade.

Among their work has been advising Afghan police and military forces, who took the lead in securing the country’s recent elections. The last of the division soldiers are scheduled to return around the end of the year.

The division’s soldiers, among the first to deploy to the country, have seen several deployments over the past decade. Division leaders have expressed enthusiasm on multiple occasions about being able to help close major operations in the country at the end of this year.

Soldiers from post were in attendance for an appearance by the president at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on Sunday, during which he foreshadowed Monday’s announcement.

“After all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains you have helped to win,” President Obama told the assembled soldiers.

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