Fort Drum

More Fort Drum soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan

Feb 27, 2015
Julia Botero / WRVO News


More Fort Drum troops got official orders to ship off to Afghanistan. They will leave this spring and summer. 

Over 1,600 soldiers with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will do one of three things in southern Afghanistan: One, protect U.S. forces on bases; two, serve as staff with the Train Advise Assist Command unit; or three advise the Afghan National Army and police.

General Atomics Aeronautics

A small group of soldiers from Fort Drum’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade will be the first from Fort Drum to deploy to Afghanistan this year. The unit will operate new Gray Eagle drones as part of the new mission in that country.  

Only ten units in the Army can  operate these drones. Fort Drum's Delta Company is one of them.  Major Josh Jacques  is a spokesmen for Fort Drum.  He says the Gray Eagles will act as the eyes for ground troops in Afghanistan.

Dougtone / Creative Commons License

The Department of Defense has drafted a new budget that includes $19 million for Fort Drum in 2016.  The money would go towards building a training academy on the base. But, the Pentagon budget still needs to be approved by a Congress wary of overspending.

The academy would be for non-commissioned officers – the junior leaders of the Army.  There, soldiers who want to advance their careers can learn  the basics of leadership, communication and management.

Julia Botero / WRVO

President Barack Obama officially declared the war in Afghanistan over at the end of 2014, but he also promised to send more U. S. troops to the country to train Afghan security forces. The Army has not identified who those soldiers will be, but leaders with Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division are confident they will be among the first to head back to Afghanistan.

Dougtone / Creative Commons License

Early on in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address, he took a few moments to  thank  the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division. The soldiers received  the longest applause and the only standing ovation during his speech.

"The 10th Mountain Division is the most deployed force since 9-11. Just think about that -- 323 soldiers have been lost by the 10th Mountain Division defending our freedom," said the governor.

Cuomo called Fort Drum  a great North Country asset.



The Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help struggling soldiers, but numbers show these efforts have done little to stop the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.

President Barack Obama has vowed to do more to stop what he has called "an epidemic" of suicides in our military.

There is a bill in Congress that aims to provide more mental health services to veterans, but some think it won't do much.

Julia Botero / WRVO


Since 2001, more active-duty American soldiers have killed themselves than were killed in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama acknowledged the soaring suicide rate in the United States military in a speech in North Carolina last summer. Obama said, "We have to end this tragedy of suicide among our troops and veterans. As a country, we can't stand idly by on such tragedy, so we're doing even more.”

Julia Botero / WRVO

Fort Drum commemorated the end of its combat role in Afghanistan Monday. Most of the 10th Mountain Division is now back for the holidays, but the U.S. Army will continue its mission in Afghanistan.

At Monday's welcome home ceremony, Annie Costellano-Rios chats with two women as they wait for band to start up. Her husband is a 10th Sustainment Brigade commander - the most recent to deploy to Afghanistan and one of the last to return.

"I'm glad they are home," Costellano-Rios said. "It was a long nine months, or 10 months actually, wasn't it?"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about father Mario Cuomo's love of Fort Drum

Dec 9, 2014
Karen Dewitt / WRVO

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo participated in Monday's homecoming ceremony at Fort Drum, he was asked by a reporter about his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo and the work he did with Fort Drum while he was in office.

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo has reportedly been hospitalized for several weeks because of a heart condition, and his son has not spoken much in public about his father's health.

The current governor said he and one of his daughters visited his father Sunday night and told him the 82 year-old he would be visiting Fort Drum the next day.

Julia Botero / WRVO

Fort Drum held a ceremony Monday to commemorate the 10th Mountain Division's 13-year involvement in Afghanistan. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a last minute appearance, joining Secretary of the Army John McHugh and other state and national leaders who were there.

The 10th Mountain Division was the first to be deployed to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. Within the last year and a half, every brigade of the 10th Mountain Division has been deployed to the country.

Army announces new Fort Drum commander

Dec 5, 2014
U.S. Army

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Bannister has been named the new commander of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division. Bannister worked as the deputy commander general for Fort Drum between 2009 and 2011 before taking a job with the Pentagon.

Anthony Keating, who works for the secretary of the Army, knows Bannister well. He says Bannister's familiarity with the North Country will help him make a smooth transition back to Fort Drum.

"I think he will fit in extremely well here because he knows so many people," Keating said.

U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Kap Kim

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent the weekend in Afghanistan, as part of a contingent of four U.S. governors on a trip to learn about counterterrorism measures.

Cuomo and the other governors were invited by the Defense Department, to receive briefings on counterterrorism efforts and increasing global threats, and to meet with the troops, including 270 Members of the New York National Guard and 900 members of Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division.

Cuomo held a conference call with reporters while in Afghanistan.

WRVO / File Photo

Supporters of Fort Drum are coming out in full force to prevent the North Country installation from losing more soldiers. The fears come from the United States Army's proposal to reduce troop levels to pre-World War II numbers.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie's office has been working with the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization to gather more than 9,000 signatures in support of keeping jobs at the base, which she says pumped about $1.4 billion into the local economy last year.

Gino Geruntino

Fort Drum near Watertown is one of a handful of sites being considered as an East Coast missile defense site. A meeting was held Tuesday at Carthage High School to gauge the community's interest on the potential project.

Lt. Col. Chris Snipes, with the Missile Defense Agency, says the study being performed right now looks at a variety of factors when it comes to where the prospective site might go.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Besides some clouds on Nov. 12, 2013, Air National Guard crew members recalled to accident investigators that it was a nice day for flying.

But it was a cold, late fall day, just below freezing on the ground at Fort Drum, where the Air National Guard launches its remotely piloted aircraft for training missions over upstate New York. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in New York state is spending part of today in the North Country.   

Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss says his message is aimed at the area around Fort Drum, and that he and gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino know how important that military base is to the local economy.

“Over $1 billion I think last year alone goes out to the community," Moss said. "So Fort Drum is very important to that part of the state. It’s important that we keep it open and keep jobs there.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says the chances are slim that undocumented children caught trying to cross the US-Mexican border illegally will be housed at Fort Drum.

The Army base is reportedly being considered to house hundreds of Central American immigrant children under a government program as soon as August

But Schumer says he’s spoken with officials at the Department of Health and Human Services:

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Multiple communication and navigation failures on 174th Air National Guard Attack Wing's MQ-9 Reaper unmanned drone flying over central New York last November caused it to crash in Lake Ontario.

Investigation into drone crash nearing completion

Apr 8, 2014
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Air Force's investigation into the crash of a drone aircraft into Lake Ontario last fall is nearing completion and should be made public later this spring.

Investigators from the Air Force Investigations Board wrapped up the on-site investigation at Hancock Airfield on March 20, according to 174th Air Guard Attack Wing spokeswoman Maj. Sandy Stoquert.

Investigators did not give the 174th a preliminary report or portions of its finding yet, Stoquert said.

Schumer vows to fight troop reduction at Fort Drum

Mar 20, 2014
David Sommerstein / NCPR

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer says he’s not afraid to use his political might to protect Fort Drum from cuts to the military budget. Schumer held a press conference at Watertown City Hall Wednesday as the Pentagon prepares to axe up to 100,000 Army troops.

The possibility of an Army downsizing to 1940s levels is fraying nerves in military communities nationwide. But on Monday, concern deepened. The Army circulated a sort of worst-case scenario report – and it included assessing the loss of nearly 90 percent of the troops stationed at Fort Drum.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

Since Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel detailed his proposal for deep military cutbacks Monday, officials in Watertown have been trying to divine what that could mean for Fort Drum. They believe the Army post is well-positioned – but that doesn’t mean it won’t take a hit.

The military is already in downsizing mode as the war in Afghanistan winds down. But Hagel’s plan calls for deeper cuts, including shrinking the Army to its smallest size since before World War II.

Army officers anxious as they await word of cuts

Feb 20, 2014
Joanna Richards

In any company town, when the major employer is planning layoffs, people get worried. How will they earn a living if they lose their job? How will they remake their identity?

This is the picture for many Army officers stationed at Fort Drum. By early summer, some will find out they have to go.

It’s part of an overall downsizing of the military as the war in Afghanistan winds down. Evaluations this spring will determine whether some officers can stay in the service.

Joanna Richards

The Defense Department has named Fort Drum as one of four military installations to house a possible East Coast missile defense facility. 

Joanna Richards

The growth of Fort Drum and its fluctuating soldier population have always complicated the housing market around Watertown. But the Army post throws another factor into the mix: soldier’s housing allowances. They just went up.

As of January 1, the Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH, rates across the military went up an average of 5 percent. In the Fort Drum area, it’s up around 13 percent. Junior enlisted soldiers have gone from receiving $948 per month to $1,071 per month, to cover the cost of housing and utilities.    

Money to expand drone hangar at Fort Drum

Dec 30, 2013
David Sommerstein

Not long after a military drone crashed into Lake Ontario in November, the program that aircraft belonged to is getting a boost with funding from the 2014 defense spending bill signed into law last week. The money will go toward expanding a storage and maintenance facility at Fort Drum.   

Drum numbers likely dropping – but no cause for alarm

Dec 12, 2013
Joanna Richards

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.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Updated, Thursday, 8:26 p.m.:

The Air National Guard has found pieces of its unmanned drone that crashed into Lake Ontario earlier this week.

Recovery efforts continued on Thursday and debris was found along the shoreline, according to Maj. Sandy Stoquert, a public affairs officer for the 174th Attack Wing based in Syracuse.

The MQ-9 Reaper crashed into the eastern part of the lake Tuesday afternoon during a training flight that had taken off three hours earlier from Ft. Drum.

Fort Drum civilian workers hit with furloughs, again

Oct 2, 2013
Dougtone / Creative Commons License

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.

The mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard earlier this month prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to call for security reviews at all military facilities. Fort Drum declined to comment on how the post is being affected by that decision, but this week the Department of Defense gave details about how the larger review process would take shape.

Sequester may mean more cutbacks at Fort Drum

Sep 18, 2013
WRVO file photo

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.