Fort Drum Expected To Be Safe Despite Talk Of BRAC
Imagine if Fort Drum shut down in three years, closing its doors and sending troops to other bases.
"I think it goes without saying, it would have a devastating effect on the local economy," said Jeff Zuhlke of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 400.
That's what people are afraid a government program called BRAC, or Base Realignment and Closure, could do.
The Pentagon is expected to propose a round of BRAC next week.
But the good news for Fort Drum is that no one is expecting it to gain any traction in Congress.
"Given the tone that the House Armed Services Committee has given, it will go nowhere in the House," said north country Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 21st District).
The idea behind BRAC is saving money.
The Department of Defense wants to cut assets like buildings and bases.
"We could rebalance and eliminate a lot of assets we don't really need. The Air Force has publicly said they have 25 percent excess capacity," said Carl McLaughlin of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.
The last threat of BRAC was last year.
The last time it happened was in 2005 when 24 major bases were closed and 24 were realigned at a price tag of $35 billion.
The savings the changes yielded were only $4 billion a year, which turns off some in Congress.
More are turned off by the freedom a BRAC committee has in closing and realigning bases.
"There's no details. It just says we want another BRAC commission authorized," said Owens.
No one we talked to Friday sees Congress approving BRAC this year, but since the DOD is pushing hard for another round of closures and realignment, that doesn't mean BRAC is out of the cards forever.