Fort Drum consists of 107,265 acres. It's mission includes command of active component units assigned to the installation, provide administrative and logistical support to tenant units, support to tenant units, support to active and reserve units from all services in training at Fort Drum, and planning and support for the mobilization and training of almost 80,000 troops annually.
Fort Drum is located in the North Country, the picturesque Thousand Islands Region of Northern New York State. This installation is located in one of the most unique and beautiful areas in the United States. Fort Drum is approximately 30 miles from Canada, with the Great Lakes to our west and the Adirondack Mountains to the east. Winter and summer sports opportunities abound. The Adirondack Mountains, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands Region are prime tourist attractions. The tri-county areas of Jefferson, Lewis, and St Lawrence surrounding the installation are rich with history and tradition.
Fort Drum has been used as a military training site since 1908, however the Army's presence in the North Country may be traced back to the early 1800's. In 1809 a company of infantry soldiers was stationed at Sacket's Harbor to enforce the Embargo Act and control smuggling between northern New York and Canada. Following the outbreak of the War of 1812, Sackets Harbor became the center of United States Naval and military activity for the Upper St. Lawrence River Valley and Lake Ontario.
During the 1830's and 40's, the Patriots War in Canada prompted a new round of military preparations and Madison Barracks became the home of artillery units.
Learning that the War Department was looking for areas in northern New York to train the troops, the Watertown Chamber of Commerce proposed the Army establish a training area on 10,000 acres of land along the Black River in the vicinity of Felts Mills, Great Bend and the village of Black River.
In 1908, Brigadier General Frederick Dent Grant, son of General Ulysses S. Grant, was sent here with 2,000 regulars and 8,000 militia. He found Pine Plains to be an ideal place to train troops. The following year money was allocated to purchase the land and summer training continued here through the years.
The camp's first introduction to the national spotlight came in 1935 when the largest peacetime maneuvers were held on Pine Plains and surrounding farm lands. Thirty-six thousand, five hundred soldiers came from throughout the Northeast to take part in the exercise. Some soldiers travelled by trains which arrived in town every 15 minutes, coming from as far away as Buffalo and New York City. For 36 hours, young men from offices, factories, and farms marched, attacked and defended in tactical exercises on the 100-miles the Army had leased for its war games. The maneuvers were judged to be most successful and the War Department purchased another 9,000 acres of land.
With the outbreak of World War Two, the area now known as Pine Camp was selected for a major expansion and an additional 75,000 acres of land was purchased. With that purchase, 525 local families were displaced. Five entire villages were eliminated, while others were reduced from one-third to one-half their size. By Labor Day 1941, 100 tracts of land were taken over. Three thousand buildings, including 24 schools, 6 churches and a post office were abandoned. Contractors then went to work, and in a period of 10 months at a cost of $20 million, an entire city was built to house the divisions scheduled to train here. Eight hundred buildings were constructed; 240 barracks, 84 mess halls, 86 storehouses, 58 warehouses, 27 officers' quarters, 22 headquarters buildings, and 99 recreational buildings as well as guardhouses and a hospital. Construction workers paid the price, as the winter of 1941-42 was one of the coldest in North Country history. The three divisions to train at Pine Camp were General George S. Patton's 4th Armored Division (Gen. Creighton Abrams was a battalion commander here at the time), the 45th Infantry Division and the 5th Armored Division.
The post also served as a prisoner of war camp. Of those prisoners who died here, one Italian and six Germans are still buried in the Sheepfold Cemetery near Remington Pond.
Pine Camp became Camp Drum in 1951, named after Lt. Gen. Hugh A. Drum who commanded the First Army during World War II. During and after the Korean Conflict a number of units were stationed and trained here to take advantage of the terrain and climate. The post was designated Fort Drum in 1974 and a permanent garrison was assigned. In April 1980, B Company, 76th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy) was reassigned here from Fort Meade, Md. It was followed by the rest of the battalion, less Company D, three years later.
In January 1984, the Department of the Army announced it was studying selected Army posts to house a new light infantry division. On September 11, 1984, the announcement was made that Fort Drum would be the new home of the 10th Light Infantry Division. The first division troops arrived at Fort Drum on December 3, 1984 and the unit was officially activated on February 13, 1985. The name was changed to the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at that time. The division reached full strength in 1989. Between 1986 and 1992, 130 new buildings, 35 miles of roads, and 4,272 sets of family housing units were built at a cost of $1.3 billion.
The mission of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) is to be manned and trained to deploy rapidly by air, sea, and land anywhere in the world, prepared to fight upon arrival and win. On June 4, 1985, the identity of a Roundout Brigade was announced. The brigade was composed of New York Army National Guard battalions from central and northern New York under the 27th Infantry Brigade. On June 28, 1985, the 76th Engineer Battalion was inactivated.
Fort Drum keeps on grow-ing. Over $1 billion dollars built the "new" post in less than a decade beginning in 1986, but the completion of the initial projects hasn't meant the end of progress, when it comes to meeting the needs of the Army in the 21st Century.
Among facilities under construction on the post in 2001 was the Inclement Weather Weapons Training Facility. This approxi-mately four million-dollar structure on North Memorial Drive, will enable troops to receive year-round training, whatever the weather. Included in the new building are 14 firing lanes, two classrooms, an arms vault and a weapon cleaning room. Firing lanes are 31 meters deep to support MP qualification firing, and they support all weapons through SAW and M-60 machine gun, allowing for zeroing exercises and alternate qualification. Targetry is computer-operated through the range master con-troller, and targets can be controlled from 5 meters through 31 meters to accommodate all types of firearm qualifications.
The new Multi-Purpose Auditorium includes not one, but two, 425-seat auditoriums separated by movable partitions. An entire Battalion Task Force can be accommodated for information and unit briefings in the combined space of 850 seats. Both auditoriums are equipped with stage platforms and state-of-the- art sound systems. This three-and-a-half million-dollar project is located on the corner of North Riva Ridge Loop and Mount Belvedere Boulevard.
Fort Drum is a major training center for reserve component forces, and units of the New York Army National Guard rank among the post's most frequent customers. The nearly 12,000-member New York Army National Guard is comprised of state headquarters and three major commands: Headquarters 42nd Infantry Division (Mechanized); Headquarters 53rd Troop Command, and the 27th Separate Infantry Brigade (Enhanced). Battalions, companies and detachments of these commands are distributed among more than 60 armories across the state from Niagara Falls, to the tip of Long Island. These units regularly come to Fort Drum for weekend Inactive Duty Training and Annual Training during the year. Fort Drum's ranges, training areas and facilities are essential to the New York Army National Guard to meet readiness objectives and federal training requirements.
The New York Army National Guard also maintains the bulk of its deployable vehicles and equipment at its Mobilization and Training Equipment Site on Fort Drum. Guard units training on the post draw their equipment from MATES as needed, and return them when training is completed. Combined Support Maintenance Shop D is co-located with MATES.
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