Fort Drum

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 News File Photo

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 News File Photo

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.  

Fort Drum

A former 10th Mountain Division soldier will receive the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during a 2009 battle in Afghanistan. 

U.S. Army. Some rights reserved.

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.

Military drones will soon be flying over Syracuse

Aug 5, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

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.

Fort Drum civilian worker furloughs begin

Jul 9, 2013
Joanna Richards/WRVO

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.

Joanna Richards/WRVO

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.

A behind-the-scenes look at Fort Drum soldier training

Jun 27, 2013
Joanna Richards/WRVO

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.

Fort Drum to lose 1,500 troops under Army plan

Jun 25, 2013
NCPR File Photo

The Army announced Tuesday that Fort Drum will lose about 1,500 soldiers over the next four years as part of an overall reduction in troops across the Army. 

The Army had said the post could lose as many as 8,000 soldiers – or gain as many as 3,000 – under the planned troop reduction and reorganization as the Afghanistan war winds down.

Democratic Congressman Bill Owens, of Plattsburgh, said the news of the 1,500-soldier loss gave him a sense of relief, since the cuts could have been much deeper.

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.

Army bases' land is resource for generating energy

Apr 24, 2013
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.

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