The Watertown Daily Times is reporting the greater Fort Drum region could face a sharper housing crunch in 2012, when all of the post’s brigades are scheduled to be at home:
Among the 18,500 soldiers, the largest bloc is three brigade combat teams, each with 3,500 soldiers. Even in a situation after 2012 where there’s a large deployment and one of those teams is overseas, fully 16 percent — or 560 soldiers — would be required to remain at Fort Drum under the new policy. And of those who do deploy, 75 percent of their family members are expected to stay in the north country, according to the Army’s report.
At Fort Drum last summer, Army Secretary John McHugh said his goal is to make “dwell time” – the period between deployments – two years for every one year overseas. That would mean more soldiers in Jefferson County at any given time. Currently, many troops barely have one year dwell time before they’re shipped off to the next deployment.
While Fort Drum’s population exploded from 2003-2006, at least one of the 10th Mountain Division’s brigades has been in Iraq or Afghanistan pretty much constantly. The soldiers go to fight. Many of their families go back home (many to the South).
The U.S. has drawn down troops in Iraq, and may begin doing so slowly in Afghanistan next year. Perhaps the housing squeeze may finally become a reality.
If that’s the case, you have to hope local, county, and state officials are prepared – not just for military families, but for low income people displaced by the soldiers. They’ve had half a decade to prepare.