Fort Drum

Comptroller DiNapoli: Watertown in good fiscal health

Jun 13, 2013
Joanna Richards

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. 

Old coal plant on Fort Drum reopens as biomass facility

Jun 5, 2013
Joanna Richards / WRVO

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.  

Joanna Richards / WRVO

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.  

Joanna Richards

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.

U.S. Army

The U.S. military is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government. But it also has a tremendous resource for generating its own energy: all the land bases sit on.

Dougtone / Creative Commons License

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.  

U.S. Army

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.  

Fort Drum Public Affairs

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.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

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.

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. 

Vets Peer-to-Peer Outreach Center opens in Watertown

Dec 12, 2012
Joanna Richards/WRVO

A new center to help veterans through mental health problems opened Friday in Watertown. Veteran volunteers will help their peers get the services they need.

New commanding general takes helm at Fort Drum

Dec 3, 2012

Major General Stephen Townsend has taken over command of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division following a ceremony at the post yesterday morning.  

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. 

Military Moral Code

Nov 19, 2012

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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.

For the first time since Fort Drum's expansion after the terrorist attack of 9/11, all of its three brigade combat teams are back home at the post.  After multiple deployments in two wars spanning 11 years, the soldiers' needs for mental health services are unprecedented, and complicated. Fort Drum and the surrounding community are cooperating to respond to those needs.

Watertown Airport recieves federal grant for improvements

Sep 28, 2012

The Watertown International Airport has seen huge growth in the past year, with a switch from nine-seater to 44-seater planes and direct connections to Chicago. Now the airport will be able to catch up on some overdue infrastructure, with a $2 million grant from the federal government.

The U.S. Army has been ramping up instruction in the languages of Afghanistan, even as troop levels in the country decrease in preparation for the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014.

This year, key installations have added several hundred speakers of Pashto and Dari to their ranks, more than doubling the number of soldiers trained in the Afghan languages.

But it's not just the country's languages that are foreign to U.S. soldiers — it's the culture, as well.

Joanna Richards/WRVO

From July 23 until today, Fort Drum has been holding its biggest training exercise in a decade. WRVO Reporter Joanna Richards donned body armor and a helmet to observe the maneuvers – and find out how they prepare soldiers for war.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

The remains of a Fort Drum soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month returned to home of the 10th Mountain Division on Sunday, and his funeral was held yesterday in Carthage, in Jefferson County.

At 28 years old, Staff Sergeant Daniel Rodriguez had a wife and three children – and four combat tours under his belt after 10 years of service in the Army.

Those who knew him said Rodriguez will be remembered for his humor, the love he had for his family, and the commitment he had to his military career.  

It's a national tradition for naturalization ceremonies for new U.S. citizens to be performed on Independence Day. This year,  a Fort Drum soldier participated in a ceremony at the White House on July 4.

Aniks the 1 via Flickr

Fort Drum is being eyed as a possible location for a new East Coast missile defense site. Republicans in the House Armed Services committee called this week for a study on the issue.

Everyone in the north country recognizes that Fort Drum plays a huge role in the region's economy. Just how big is the subject of a report the post puts out every year, called the annual economic impact statement. This year's report says Fort Drum contributed over $1.6 billion dollars in spending in the 2011 fiscal year.

New York State has banned the sale of synthetic marijuana products. Marketed as “herbal incense” and sold under names like Spice and K2, the fake pot has been popular with people across the North Country—including Fort Drum soldiers. The post near Watertown recently announced it would ban soldiers from spending money at any businesses that sell synthetic pot. But it now seems that won’t be necessary.

A unit at Fort Drum charged with helping wounded soldiers transition to civilian life was given a scathing review in a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office. According to the report, the Warrior Transition Battalion was seen as a “dumping ground” rather than a place to help soldiers heal. Medical recommendations were ignored, and morale was low, with some soldiers saying they'd rather be in jail or being “shot at in Iraq” than in the battalion. 

Fort Drum soldier Sergeant Jacob Perkins was awarded the Soldier's Medal Tuesday afternoon at the installation. The medal is given to soldiers for heroism outside the battlefield. Sergeant Perkins came to the aid of a group of Canadian tourists in July, when their tour bus collided with a semi trailer on the Thruway in Waterloo, New York, between Syracuse and Rochester. 

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. 

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