The Watertown area’s economy is heavily dependent on Fort Drum. With the federal budget sequester on and the Afghanistan war winding down, the numbers of soldiers assigned to the post and civilians working there is likely to decrease. But the outlook is more complicated than just doom and gloom.
Fort Drum is among the many arms of the federal government dealing with furloughs as a result of the government shutdown. Workers deemed non-essential were sent home midday yesterday.
A division spokeswoman said the timing is bad for the post, because because it comes on top of a nearly two-year hiring freeze that has many departments already down to bare bones staffing. And this is a busy time for Fort Drum, with multiple units preparing for imminent deployments, and others returning and going through reintegration.
Soldiers participate in a homecoming ceremony at Fort Drum.
Fort Drum may be facing personnel cutbacks as a result of the federal budget reductions known as sequestration. The post submitted recommendations to the Department of the Army about how it would want to make the cuts, if needed.
The Department of Defense is including Fort Drum, near Watertown, as one of five sites to be studied for a new East Coast missile defense program. Local officials hailed the decision. But the Pentagon itself says it has no money to build the site.
Fort Drum will be considered along with Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, Vermont, and military sites in Maine, Ohio, and Michigan.
Cong. Bill Owens says a missile interceptor base would bring billions of dollars in investments and more troops to the Jefferson County region.
Central New York's Air National Guard unit, the 174th Attack Wing, will soon be flying drone training flights over a large portion of the city of Syracuse.
The 174th was granted permission from the Federal Aviation Administration last month to expand its permitted airspace south into Oswego, Madison and Onondaga Counties. The airspace includes the northern half of Syracuse and stretches from Camillus to Fayetteville from west to east.
Civilian employee furloughs start at Fort Drum this week, as part of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Non-uniformed workers face one mandatory unpaid day off each week for 11 weeks. About 1,800 workers – and many services on post – are affected.
Uniformed members of the military are exempt from the furloughs, but that doesn't mean they won't be affected by them.
Fort Drum soldiers mark the departure of the 10th Sustainment Brigade for an Afghanistan deployment in October 2011.
When the Army announced earlier this week that Fort Drum would lose 1,500 soldiers as part of a plan to reduce troops across the force, north country community leaders started trying to figure out what the impact would be.
They seem to agree that Fort Drum escaped this round of personnel cuts relatively unscathed.
In the communities surrounding Fort Drum, soldiers in uniform are a common sight: they're in the grocery store with their families, standing in line at the post office, or having a beer with friends after work. But for many of the area's civilians, what soldiers do on post remains something of a mystery. An annual event at Fort Drum aims to fix that.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli came to Watertown on Wednesday to commend the city's leadership on its sound financial stewardship. DiNapoli's office is rolling out a program of annual fiscal “stress tests” for municipalities and school districts. And the comptroller said Watertown sets an example for prudent financial planning.
A once-idled coal plant on Fort Drum has been given new life. ReEnergy Black River is creating dozens of new jobs in the North Country – while maintaining a focus on the environment.
State and local officials gathered recently at the facility to celebrate its grand opening.
Over the past year and a half, New York-based company ReEnergy Holdings has retrofitted the plant on Fort Drum to burn biomass instead of coal. Its primary fuel will be wood chips, created from the waste of the nearby logging industry on the Tug Hill Plateau and southwestern Adirondacks.
It's a busy time for Fort Drum, near Watertown. Even as the Army prepares to leave Afghanistan, the post has parts of two brigades deployed. Its aviation unit is about to ship off for a nine-month tour. And the 10th Mountain Division is expecting more orders from the Pentagon soon.
State Sen. Patty Ritchie speaks in support of Fort Drum at a community listening session hosted by the Army Thursday at Case Middle School in Watertown.
About 200 community members turned up in a school auditorium in Watertown Thursday night in a showing of regional support for Fort Drum. The event was billed as a “listening session” for the Army, to inform a process of personnel cutbacks and reorganization currently affecting military installations around the country.
An unusual pair of “battle buddies” is about to deploy to Afghanistan from Fort Drum. Michael and Miranda Mogg are a father-daughter pair of soldiers with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council, or REDC, held its most recent meeting at Fort Drum last week. The idea was to give members from the region's seven counties greater insight into how the Army post interacts with the local economy. The council also took steps to implement a new program for water and sewer project infrastructure.
The federal government's across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester are set to kick in Friday, barring an agreement between Congress and the president. That means a big impact for defense spending, including for Fort Drum, an important regional economic driver.
The U.S. military is in the process of cutting almost half a trillion dollars from its budget over ten years. The Pentagon says the cuts will lead to a more agile force with a new strategic mission. A new Army report weighs alternatives for restructuring that could affect Fort Drum. Under one scenario, the post could see an increase of 3,000 soldiers, but under another, it could lose up to 8,000 soldiers and 15 percent of its civilian workforce.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce Thursday that a ban on women serving in combat roles in the military will be lifted over the coming years. Around heavily-deployed Fort Drum, soldiers generally welcomed the news – with some caveats.
Specialist Jacob Owens attended the president's second inauguration Monday.
More than half a million people gathered on the National Mall in front of the Capitol to be a part of President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Among them were about 10 wounded warriors who have been recovering at Walter Reed hospital in Washington. Among that group were four Fort Drum soldiers. One, Specialist Jacob Owens, spoke with a reporter after a long day full of ceremony.
With the outbreak of World War Two, the Army installation then known as Pine Camp expanded, to become Camp Drum and eventually Fort Drum today. In the process, it swallowed up several villages, including their cemeteries. Fort Drum researchers have created a database and new maps that will help family members of those buried at the cemeteries to find and visit their loved ones' gravesites, both in person and online.
Credit Capt. Michael Greenberger, Department of Defense CC some rights reserved via Flickr
Fort Drum's 2nd Brigade Combat Team is preparing for a January deployment to eastern Afghanistan. The deployment marks a shift for troops from combat to advising and assisting the Afghan security forces.
Marital fidelity is a sensitive subject for many in the military. Relationships are stressed by distance, frequent moves and the dangers of war. Gen. David Petraeus's admission that he had an extramarital affair has led some Fort Drum families to reflect on the difficulties of keeping their personal relationships whole – and their image among a public that often doesn't understand their culture.
Marital fidelity is a sensitive subject for many in the military. Relationships are often strained by distance, frequent moves, the dangers of war. Gen. David Petraeus' admission that he had an extramarital affair has led some military families to reflect on the difficulties of keeping their personal relationships whole. Reporter Joanna Richards spoke with families from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, in upstate New York.
The race for New York’s 24th congressional district seat has easily been the most intense political contest in this region, pitting incumbent Republican Ann Marie Buerkle against Democratic challenger Dan Maffei, in a bitter rematch. Ursula Rozum has also run a spirited Green Party challenge, which could influence the outcome.