Could Fort Drum lose 2,800 by 2017? It’s complicated.

Photo: Mark Kurtz

Photo: Mark Kurtz

In a somewhat anxiety-inducing article today, the Watertown Daily Times is reporting that a new Army analysis projects Watertown’s Fort Drum will lose about 2,800 soldiers and civilian workers over the next several years.

Gah! What does this mean? Our Watertown reporter Joanna Richards is looking into the situation, but from the article it seems that

an Army Stationing and Installation Plan estimate showed a decline from a population peak of 23,724 during fiscal year 2012 to just under 21,000 by fiscal year 2017, then remaining steady through 2019. The population count does not include connected family members.

Some of the decrease is accounted for by the deactivation of the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat team (announced in June). That deactivation means the post will lose about 1,500 soldiers.

It’s not clear where the civilian losses are coming from, but we’ll know more soon. A Fort Drum spokesman says no decision has actually been made about the decreases, however.

Here’s what Joanna has to say so far as she looks into the situation: “Watertown depends on Fort Drum, economically. But even though a decrease in soldiers and civilian employees there might sound alarming, it shouldn’t be. Carl McLaughlin, head of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, points out that as the war winds down, deployments are shorter and troops are coming home. As they do, their families are more likely to join them at Fort Drum. So even though the number of soldiers and DoD workers assigned to the post may be decline slightly, the actual number of military families in the area will remain fairly steady.”

We’ll let you know when we know more.

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