Fort Drum

Julia Botero / WRVO news

More than 4,000 Fort Drum troops are on missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world. We’ve heard a lot about the soldiers, but less about their families.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

President Barack Obama announced his decision Thursday to delay the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. This is a big departure from Obama’s original plan to remove almost all troops by the end of his presidency. But, Fort Drum's commanding general says he isn’t surprised by the news.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan toured Fort Drum Wednesday for the first time since becoming a state lawmaker in 2002. Flanagan was elected Senate majority leader in May when former leader Dean Skelos resigned due to his arrest on federal corruption charges. Flanagan's visit was part of a day-long tour of the North Country. 

Fort Drum soldier killed in Afghanistan

Sep 23, 2015
2nd Battalian, Fort Drum

A Fort Drum soldier died Monday in Bagram, Afghanistan. Specialist Kyle Gilbert of Buford Georgia was 24.

This is the first death of a Fort Drum soldier in this latest cycle of deployments. Combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan came to a close at the end of last year. This summer, Fort Drum soldiers began deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan this time to train and advise Afghan and Iraqi forces.

Gilbert died of a non-combat related injury. The Department of Defense says they're investigating the incident that led to his injury.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

If you’re looking to rent or buy a home near Fort Drum, now would be a good time. Apartment complexes in surrounding towns are offering special deals in hopes of filling empty units. Recent deployments at Fort Drum has help create an abundance of housing.

Last time on the Campbell Conversations, we heard from the North Country's first-term Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.  This week, host Grant Reeher talks with the Democrat who wants to unseat her in 2016, retired Army Colonel Mike Derrick.  Derrick is getting an early start and is trying to build what he calls "a start-up" campaign.  Their conversation probes for the most important differences between the two likely candidates in the general election, and Derrick's reasons

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Veterans who’ve retired or left the Army sometimes have a difficult time transitioning back to their civilian lives. Many have trouble finding satisfying work. Others suffer from depression. In recent years, thousands of veterans have found a purpose in farming. The Cornell Cooperative Extension is introducing soldiers at Fort Drum to careers in agriculture through tours of North Country farms.

The first stop on the tour today is Windswept Farms, just outside Watertown. 

A group follows Delta Keeney past rows of her organically-grown vegetables.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

This month, two soldiers made history by becoming the first women to graduate from Army Ranger school. The course is the most exhausting and mentally demanding in the Army -- designed to create leaders who can excel amid the stresses of combat. This April marked the first time woman were admitted to Ranger School.

Capt. Michelle Kelly is the only woman from Fort Drum who qualified for the course. She didn’t pass, but she says she’s glad she tried. WRVO's Julia Botero sat down with Kelly to talk about that experience.

Elise Stefanik, New York's first-term congressional representative for the North Country's 21st district, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.  At issue in her campaign last year was just how moderate the young Republican would be when she reached the chamber.  Host Grant Reeher talks with her about her record so far, what she views as her most important accomplishments, and how well Congress is currently functioning. 

Julia Botero / WRVO News

If you’re near Fort Drum around lunch time, you might notice a big pink food truck parked outside one of the base’s gates.  The Military Moms Food truck sells the kinds of meals mom used to make – like sloppy joes and grilled cheeses. And it’s kind of famous. The truck appeared last year on The Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. Now, it’s back home serving comfort food to soldiers and fans.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

North Country lawmakers say they're relieved after hearing the news that Fort Drum will take just 28 troop cuts as a part of the Army’s downsizing.

Compare that with several thousand cuts at Fort Benning in Georgia and Fort Hood in Texas.

WRVO / File Photo

Updated at 2:20 p.m.

The official press release from Fort Drum confirms the post will lose 28 military positions.  Today's announcement from the Army does not include any reductions to civilian employees. A source says that announcement will come in the fall.  The reduction of the size of the Army is expected to be completed by fiscal year 2017.

Updated at 11:30 a.m.

Julia Botero / WRVO file photo

The Pentagon is expected to announce major cuts across the entire Army Thursday morning. Local officials and those who live in Fort Drum’s surrounding communities are waiting anxiously for news on what specific cuts will be made to the base.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

On Thursday, the Army is expected to announce where it plans to cut troops on bases around the country. Despite the looming draw down, New York state continues to invest in Fort Drum.  

State Sen. Patty Richie announced yesterday that she has secured $650,000 dollars for four hospitals that serve Fort Drum troops and their families. 

Julia Botero


A military lender based near New York City has agreed to stop charging Fort Drum soldiers excessive interest on emergency loans.

Matthew Anderson, with the New York State Department of Financial Services, says for over a decade, military lending companies have been charging service members more than double the state's interest rate caps.

“If you were not a permanent New York resident but were simply stationed here, the lenders took it to mean they didn’t have to comply with New York laws. They could charge higher interest rates,” Anderson said.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Every year, family and friends gather at Fort Drum to remember the soldiers who lost their lives in the past year fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tuesday, Fort Drum and Army officials thanked them for their sacrifice.

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, 309 Fort Drum combat soldiers lost their lives fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Destoinie Cormier / Save RCWP Facebook page

State Sen. Patty Ritchie has secured 185 thousand dollars in funding to treat troops and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Part of the money will go towards a program at Alexandria Bay’s River Hospital that treats Fort Drum soldiers.

The announcement comes just days after the hospital was given the ok to continue the program.

The River Hospital’s Community Wellness program was in danger of shutting its doors last month. The Army had decided to move all PTSD treatment programs back onto bases across the country.

River Hospital

A program at River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., that treats soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder will end in July. The Army issued orders to move mental health treatment onto military installations.

Ben Moore, the program’s director, said his staff successfully treated more than 250 soldiers with PTSD since 2012.

"I was absolutely stunned," Moore said. "I had no warning. Now we're going to have to figure out how we adapt to this.”

Julia Botero

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the state's ban on outdoor brush burning until May 21. He says conditions across the state are still too dry.

This week may have been a wet one here in central and northern New York, but until this latest round of storms, grasses and fields have been dry and several fires have been reported across the region. So, firefighters at Fort Drum are on alert.  

“With spring comes initial dryness. Even though the rain is coming, the vegetation on the range out there is dry,” said Kevin Hazen, who works in fire prevention at Fort Drum.

Mike Kurtz

Bases across the country, including Fort Drum, are stepping up security. The United States military has increased the terrorism threat level on bases from Alpha to Bravo.

2nd Battalian, Fort Drum

1st Lt. John Levulis, 25  from Eden, New York,  was traveling in a military convoy the evening of May 1 when a car collided with his Humvee carrying three other soldiers.

The four soldiers, members of  the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, were traveling to  Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst near Trenton, New Jersey for military training at the time of the crash.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) says she is in full support of the way the military is handling sexual abuse cases. Her comments in support of the military justice system are in opposition to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) accusations that the Pentagon refuses to acknowledge the scope of the crisis. 

Linda Garett / Fort Drum ACUB Program

Fort Drum has grown tremendously over the last decade. There are more soldiers working – and training – on its grounds. Fort Drum planners have been concerned new development just outside the base may come into conflict with that training mission. The base is paying property owners to keep their land undeveloped. A family dairy farm in Rutland, just south of Fort Drum, has struck the largest deal yet.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

All units at Fort Drum will likely deploy overseas within the next 13 months. That’s according to the military base’s new commanding general, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Bannister. He sat down with local reporters last week to address what’s in store for soldiers stationed at Fort Drum. 

Bannister said the changing nature of the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is changing  the way troops are deployed  at Fort Drum.  They will still go to those countries but they will also go to other strategic locations around the world.  

Julia Botero

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited Fort Drum Monday afternoon. The base was the second stop on the secretary’s first domestic trip outside Washington since taking office just over a month ago.

Carter assured a room of 10th Mountain Division soldiers that Fort Drum isn’t going anywhere.

Ash Carter / via Flickr

The newly-appointed secretary of defense will visit Fort Drum and Syracuse University's veterans institute early next week, WRVO has confirmed.

It will be Secretary Ash Carter's first domestic trip since taking over at the Pentagon, according to Stars and Stripes, which first reported the trip.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Bannister has officially become the new commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, after a change of command ceremony on post Wednesday. 

Soldiers and a small audience stood at attention as the 10th Mountain Division band honored outgoing commanding general Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend with ruffles and flourishes and a gun salute.

courtesy Justin Blodgett

During the wartime periods of American history, including the last decade, life in the military could be a career.  With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan officially over, and with troop cuts looming, the Army is sending soldiers a message - start thinking about your civilian life.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Several thousand Fort Drum backers sent a loud message to the Pentagon Friday. They said the Army base near Watertown should be spared from deep cuts as the military downsizes after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Army brass toured Fort Drum and the region as they near the end of a review of 30 installations to determine where to cut.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), John Katko (R-Camillus), Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) and Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook), were in Clayton Thursday evening for a private reception to welcome Pentagon officials to the North Country. The four members of Congress are working together to defend Fort Drum from dramatic cuts.