Update, 3:35 pm: We’ve received confirmation from Fort Drum in the form of this press release, pasted below:
Release Nr. 1306-08
June 25, 2013
Fort Drum Public Affairs
Statement by Major General Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum & 10th Mountain
Division (LI) Commander, on announced inactivation of 3rd Brigade Combat
Team, 10th Mountain Division
“After a long period of study by the Department of the Army, we now
know that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division will be
inactivated by Fiscal Year 2017. The 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the
Spartans, was activated at Fort Drum, New York on 24 September, 2004. Since
then they have deployed 3 times to Afghanistan (2006, 2009, 2011), with one
more deployment anticipated before inactivation. The Soldiers of 3BCT
epitomize the combined spirit of the legendary Spartans of ancient Greece
and the courageous 10th Mountain veterans of World War-II. Their history
will be recorded and remembered as our history, the heroism, expertise and
sacrifice of the Spartan Brigade will not be forgotten.
Even with the loss of a brigade, I don’t expect the overall
reduction to have a significant impact here at Fort Drum as we expect
additional maneuver battalions to be assigned to our remaining brigades.
After the addition of these units to the remaining Brigades, we expect the
net loss to be somewhere between 1500 and 2000 Soldiers. (emphasis NCPR’s)
Fort Drum remains one of the newest, most sustainable, state of the
art installations in our nation’s Army. With the last decade of
installation improvements, it is well known that we are among the most
capable for training opportunities and Family support services. These will
be the drivers of the 10th Mountain’s continued mission success here at Fort
Drum for a long time to come.
The dedication of our civilian workforce and the patriotism and
support of our surrounding communities allows Fort Drum to be more than a
training and deployment facility – it is our home. We ask for your
continued support to your 10th Mountain Division and to your Fort Drum.”
In the last couple hours, two stories have come out in our local media that say probably, yes. The Watertown Daily Times reports that “sources around the North Country defense community” are anticipating an announcement this afternoon by the Department of the Army of a net force reduction, over the next four years, of 1,500 soldiers. WWNY-TV says “a source with knowledge of the Pentagon’s plans” says the same.
Our Fort Drum reporter Joanna Richards is looking into the claim; meanwhile, here’s what those two sources are saying: As part of a reorganization of the Army, one of the base’s brigade combat teams, possibly the 3rd, will be removed from Fort Drum (they’re both being careful to say this information isn’t confirmed.)
The cuts would be part of the Army’s plan to reduce soldier levels from about 570,000 to about 490,000 by fiscal year 2017. They’re not connected to sequestration, by the way. The cuts, if in fact they’re happening, wouldn’t be as bad as some had anticipated: The WDT reports the Army had evaluated the local impact of cutting as many as 8,000 soldiers. So did the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization. Here are some of the results of those two studies:
The area surrounding Fort Drum was projected to lose thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and incomes. Area schools, housing and hospitals would also be negatively affected by such a move.
There’s much more in the article, and again, we’ll have more information when it’s available (and confirmation when that happens.)
Ironically, this post replaces one I was going to do this afternoon about Watertown’s ranking in a new study as the fifth-best “micropolitan” economy out of 576. That from the Watertown Daily Times as well. A successful micropolitan area, by the way, is a community with a population between 10,000 and 49,999 residents that has “experienced rapid, consistent growth in size and quality for an extended period of time.” Hopefully if Fort Drum does end up losing those troops, the impact won’t be such that it becomes an unsuccessful micropolitan area.