New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says defense cuts are coming, and they will be big. She says at least $450 billion in cuts are expected in the next decade, and that number could go higher depending on what happens with the congressional super-committee in the coming months.
So when there is consolidation, Gillibrand says New York needs to have the installations that'll take in operations from other parts of the country instead of the other way around. That means the state needs to be on the cutting edge of big military issues, for example cyber security, which defense officials say is one of the biggest threats to the nation.
"We don't want terrorists to have the capability of shutting down an electric grid in the middle of winter, shutting down a stock exchange or or being able to corrupt data in our financial services industry," says Gillibrand. "Those kinds of cyber attacks could be devastating, not just to the U.S. economy, but to our national security. So we have to make sure we are training our war fighters to make sure they have the skills they need."
Gillibrand cites the Rome Lab as a place where cyber terrorism is being worked on now and notes that the state's many colleges and universities can also pitch in with research on these issues. Military spending cuts are always very political, with installations across the country providing jobs that are the lifeblood of many communities.
There are eight military installations central and northern New York, including Fort Drum, which employs 24,000 people.