Year In Review: Fort Drum


This year the term "Army Strong" was given true meaning as Fort Drum survived a series of cuts.

Because of across the board federal budget cuts known as sequestration, civilian workers at Fort Drum were told they'd be furloughed 11 days, but it was later reduced to six.

Unrelated to sequestration, Fort Drum also found out that it would lose 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers by eliminating its 3d Brigade by 2017.

It was a part of a larger plan to cut the number of soldiers in the military by 80,000. That came as no surprise to the leader of the 10th Mountain Division.

"With only 11 divisions in our Army, it's almost certain that at least one brigade will come from our 10th Mountain Division," said Major General Stephen Townsend.

In April, President Obama released a proposed budget which included another so called BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) round which could affect Fort Drum.

However, Congress has rejected additional BRAC rounds for the time being.

It was also a controversial year for the military.

Former Fort Drum soldier Bradley Manning, who now wants to be known as Chelsea, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving away military and diplomatic secrets to the website WikiLeaks.

A Pentagon report stated there were about 350 suicides in 2012 among active duty troops.

It was also a year of mourning for Fort Drum.

In June, Fort Drum lost Colonel Todd Clark, who was killed in an insider attack.

He was a security force assistant advisory team commander who earned 17 Bronze Stars.

Major Jaimie Leonard was also killed.

Leonard was an intelligence officer and West Point graduate.

While it was a tough year for Fort Drum, there were many honorable moments.

Fort Drum is being considered for a missile interceptor program.

Interceptor programs use missiles to shoot down incoming enemy missiles.

But you can't talk about honor without remembering the people who served Fort Drum.

Tenth Mountain Division soldier Michael Ollis was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the third highest decoration for valor.

Ollis died in August after shielding a Polish soldier.

"I look at his accomplishments and what he's done. As a father, I'm talking to you as a father, you can't be any more proud of one of your children," said Robert Ollis.

Ollis was also honored by the Polish government.

Former Fort Drum soldier William Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor, the military's highest honor.

Swenson risked his life recovering bodies and saving fellow troops near the Pakistan border in 2009 - representing what it means to be "Army strong."

Saturday, December 10, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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