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.
The 174th Fighter Wing based at Hancock Field in Syracuse is about to begin operating an unmanned aerial vehicle, the MQ-9, out of Fort Drum. The 174th already conducts MQ-9 flights in Afghanistan, flights which are controlled from an operations center at Hancock Field. The partnership with Fort Drum will allow the unit to train Air Force and Air National Guard troops from around the country on flying the MQ-9.