By Paul Steven GhiringhelliJanuary 8, 2010
Over the last 12 months, as 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers continued fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Fort Drum community witnessed historic changes.
After watching the nation's first African-American president take the oath of office, we waved goodbye and said hello to commanders, two commanding generals, and many deploying and redeploying units. We mourned fallen Soldiers, some of whom received posthumous awards, including one Medal of Honor.
Fort Drum Soldiers won awards as cooks, chaplains and Sappers during the Year of the NCO; end dates were announced for Stop Loss and the U.S. combat mission in Iraq; and new programs for Soldiers emerged, including paternity leave, the Post-9/11 GI Bill and wireless Internet in all Fort Drum barracks.
New construction projects sprang up across post; high-ranking officers and dignitaries paid visits; officials declared a weapons amnesty on post; and aggressive dogs of certain breeds were curbed from family housing.
Take a quick look back at some of the people, policies and events that shaped Fort Drum last year - many of the elements that helped keep our community Army Strong.
The year began with news that 10th Combat Aviation Brigade controlled Iraqi airspace over Multinational Division - North.
Division troops in Iraq watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama on computer screens.
The Fort Polk, La., community welcomed home Soldiers of 4th Brigade Combat Team after their 14-month deployment to Iraq.
Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team began securing pockets of Wardak and Logar Provinces in Regional Command - East. They served under Combined Joint Task Force - 101 as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade provided infantry and aviation assets for Operation Blackhawk Pickett, a counter-smuggling and explosive ordnance disposal operation conducted in northeastern Iraq, near the Iranian border.
Maj. Gen. Mike Oates, Multinational Division - Center and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, held a virtual town hall meeting from Iraq using a chat room on the Task Force Mountain web site.
Hundreds of Soldiers from 10th Sustainment Brigade's 511th Military Police Company and 57th Transportation Company redeployed to Fort Drum after supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom for 15 months.
Division Soldiers in Iraq participated in United through Reading, a program that mails children DVD recordings of their deployed father or mother as they read stories to them.
Multinational Division - Center hosted more than 50 sheiks from across central and southern Iraq at a conference in Baghdad for consultations regarding security agreements between U.S. forces and the Iraqi government.
President Obama said the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end by Aug. 31, 2010. The president said that once all combat troops have left Iraq, as many as 50,000 service members will stay to train Iraqis in security, counterterrorism and other duties.
Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes restricted dog breeds deemed "aggressive" or "potentially aggressive" from family housing, including pit bulls (American Staffordshire bull terriers or English Staffordshire bull terriers), Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, chows and wolf hybrids.
The Department of Defense announced plans to eliminate the use of Stop Loss by August and September 2009 - for Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers respectively who deployed on or after Aug. 1 and Sept. 1 - and by January 2010 - for active-duty Soldiers who deployed on or after Jan. 1. The DoD also announced a $500 compensation to Soldiers for each month of involuntary service and said the department would retain the authority to use Stop Loss in the future only under extraordinary circumstances.
Brig. Gen. Kevin Mangum, 10th Mountain Division rear commander, led nearly 500 noncommissioned officers on a four-mile run around post to commemorate the Army's Year of the NCO.
Twelve Fort Drum Soldiers took part in a military cook-off during the 34th annual U.S. Army Culinary Arts Competition at Fort Lee, Va. Six of them brought back five silver and four bronze medals.
Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, made Fort Drum the final stop of an eight-day tour to six Army installations in which he talked to Soldiers, Family Members and support agencies about the Army's rising suicide rate. Chiarelli said the biggest obstacle to suicide prevention is the stigma attached to Soldiers seeking mental health treatment.
Maj. Gen. Mike Oates, 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, was made commander of Multinational Division - South, a command newly formed in Iraq after Multinational Division - Southeast absorbed Multinational Division - Center.
The National Security Personnel System, the federal government's largest pay-for-performance system, went under a six-month review. By November, it was announced the NSPS would be phased out.
The Army announced a new paternity leave policy allowing active-duty fathers to take 10 days of non-chargeable leave within 45 days of their child's birth.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) made her first official visit to Fort Drum. Members of the command group briefed the senator regarding the 10th Mountain Division (LI)'s place in the North Country and in theaters of war around the world.
Congress allotted more than $74 million to benefit Fort Drum infrastructure and construction projects after passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan. In February, Mullen had spoken with Soldiers and Family Members on Fort Drum.
To celebrate the "Month of the Military Child," hundreds of children watched the comical basketball players of the Harlem Ambassadors taunt the Fort Drum Mountaineers. During a rally before the game, the professional entertainers urged youths to stay in school and steer clear of drugs.
Fort Drum's Cultural Resources Program received the Army's Environmental Award for Cultural Resources Management for the second consecutive year.
Retired Col. Robert Howard and Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell, both Medal of Honor recipients and Vietnam veterans, visited the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in Iraq.
A two-Soldier team belonging to Fort Drum's 7th Engineer Battalion beat 33 other top combat engineer duos to take first place in the Army's 2009 Best Sapper Competition, an intense 52-hour, six-phase contest.
The Department of Veterans Affairs began receiving applications for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect Aug. 1. The new bill expands benefits and enables enrollees to transfer benefits to Family Members.
Soldiers of 760th Ordnance Company redeployed to Fort Drum after more than a year of supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited 3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers at a high-altitude outpost in Wardak Province.
The 84th Ordnance Battalion assumed command of Combined Joint Task Force Troy in Iraq from 63rd Ordnance Battalion.
Soldiers of 514th Support Maintenance Company deployed to Iraq.
The 10th Mountain Division handed over command of Multinational Division - South to 34th Infantry Division, an Army National Guard division from Minnesota.
After a year in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Mike Oates, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, his command group, and Soldiers with Division Special Troops Battalion returned to Fort Drum.
For the second consecutive year, Fort Drum's Cultural Resources Program received the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for 2008, the DoD's highest environmental honor.
Soldiers from 7th Engineer Battalion deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first case of H1N1 influenza was confirmed in Jefferson County. By July, nearly a dozen Fort Drum Soldiers and Family Members had contracted the virus.
The Army purchased property along Fort Drum's northern border, near Philadelphia, to help create a buffer zone with the public and any future development in the area.
Fort Drum's commanding general announced he would begin reviewing each drinking and driving offense, even referring some Soldiers to courts-martial, after the policy of publicizing the names and faces of arrested Soldiers did not serve as a successful deterrent.
Major renovations, including a 49,000-square-foot addition, began at the U.S. Army Medical Activity's Guthrie Clinic complex. The project, which will cost nearly $30 million, is scheduled for completion in early 2011.
Soldiers of 590th Quartermaster Company, 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, returned to Fort Drum after a yearlong deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren visited Fort Drum Soldiers and their Families.
Fort Drum's Commissary held a grand reopening ceremony after undergoing an $18 million renovation.
More than 50,000 people gathered at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield during Fort Drum's Air Show and Mountainfest 2009, which featured a weekend full of fireworks, airplane acrobatics, a free concert by country music singer Jo Dee Messina and an on-location video shoot of VH1 music channel's weekly Top 20 Video Countdown show. Also during Mountainfest, New York State Governor David A. Paterson attended the redeployment ceremony of 10th Mountain Division (LI)'s headquarters.
The Department of Defense announced 1st Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Brigade Combat Team would deploy to Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates held a town hall meeting on Fort Drum to address questions and concerns of Soldiers and their Families.
The White House announced President Obama would present the Medal of Honor to the Family of Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, in posthumous recognition of his extraordinary courage. Monti was killed in 2006 after making several attempts to rescue a wounded fellow Soldier in Afghanistan.
The post community and special guests celebrated the dedication of The Timbers, a Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes project for single Soldiers.
Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Army Community Service received the ACS Accreditation Award from FMWR Command.
Civilian of the Year was awarded to Donna Bailey, freight rate supervisor with the Directorate of Logistics Transportation Division.
Soldiers from 23rd Military Police Company deployed to Iraq.
Members of 3rd Brigade Combat Team helped provide security for Afghanistan's second democratic election.
The newly activated 110th Transportation Company deployed to Iraq for its first time.
A bridge on Sam Ridley Parkway over Interstate 24 in Smyrna, Tenn., was dedicated to fallen 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier and Smyrna native Spec. Raymond Neal Mitchell III, who was killed by enemy fire in Iraq.
Officials from Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes and Actus Lend Lease announced the completion of new home construction in the Rhicard Hills community.
All units of the 10th Mountain Division were represented during the 22nd annual memorial ceremony at the base of Whiteface Mountain near Lake Placid.
Fort Drum's Legal Assistance Office won the Army Chief of Staff Award for Excellence for outstanding support to Soldiers and Family Members.
Country music stars Craig Morgan and Billy Currington played for a capacity crowd at the Watertown Fairgrounds Arena to close out the Disabled Persons Action Organization 2009 Summer Concert Series.
Days before leaving his post as 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, Maj. Gen. Mike Oates reflected on the resilience Soldiers and Families have shown during wartime.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, newly appointed commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, was welcomed at Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar Province by the command group of 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Fort Drum Police Officer Robert L. Derouin II received the Secretary of the Army Award for Valor for his heroic actions in the line of fire while Officer Richard M. Smith received the Army's Superior Civilian Service Award for his expert handling of the same incident.
Fort Drum's Directorate of Emergency Services' Fire and Emergency Services Division received national accreditation from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
Maj. Gen. Michael L. Oates handed over command of 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum to Maj. Gen. James L. Terry.
Nearly 500 Fort Drum Soldiers and Family Members were invited to Syracuse University's home-opening football game against Minnesota, where a Fort Drum Soldier was made honorary team captain.
Fort Drum began installing Wi-Fi in all permanent barracks facilities. By year's end, all Soldiers living in barracks could purchase wireless high-speed Internet services.
President Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor to the Family of Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti during a White House ceremony.
John McHugh was sworn in as the 21st secretary of the Army. He formerly represented New York's 23rd Congressional District, an area that includes Fort Drum.
More than $3 million in grants were awarded to two Fort Drum-area schools - Indian River Central School District and Carthage Central School District. The funds, courtesy of the Department of Defense, were based on the number of military-connected students.
Soldiers with 3rd Brigade Combat Team in eastern Afghanistan launched a humanitarian mission dubbed "Extreme Makeover" to improve infrastructures in communities and offer villagers better alternatives than turning to the Taliban.
Chaplain (Maj.) Bradley West of Task Force Spartan received a prestigious ecumenical award from a chaplain with the army of the Czech Republic.
As part of a team-building exercise, 10th Mountain Division Command Sgt. Maj. James W. Redmore led dozens of senior noncommissioned officers on a demanding two-day hike through the mountains of Vermont.
Troops from 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq.
Soldiers of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade returned home after their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Several weeks after becoming 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, Maj. Gen. James L. Terry visited the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in eastern Afghanistan.
Leaders from the Warriors in Transition Unit sponsored scuba diving classes on Fort Drum as a therapeutic means of speeding the healing process for wounded Soldiers.
The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade relinquished command of the skies over Multinational Division - North, transferring authority of the aviation mission in northern Iraq to 25th Combat Aviation Brigade of Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Ending a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq, 10th Sustainment Brigade transferred authority to 96th Sustainment Brigade of Salt Lake City. Weeks later, Soldiers from 10th Sustainment and 91st Military Police Battalion returned to Fort Drum.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, top U.S. commander in Iraq, off-ramped 1st Brigade Combat Team's pending deployment to Iraq.
President Obama issued an executive order banning federal employees on official government business from texting while driving.
Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, along with other senior leaders on post, reaffirmed their commitment to Soldiers and Family Members by signing the Army Family Covenant.
Fort Drum continued to add hybrid vehicles to the installation's motorized fleet, in accordance with Army goals for boosting fuel economy and bringing carbon dioxide emissions down 30 percent by 2015.
President Obama signed the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained $680.2 billion in military budget authority.
One year after becoming the first woman general in U.S. history to attain four stars, Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command, visited Fort Drum to attend 10th Sustainment Brigade's official redeployment ceremony. Dunwoody commanded Division Support Command during the late 1990s.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, waged a strategic three-month battle in an Afghan village to successfully wrest control from Taliban forces.
The Department of Defense announced that tens of thousands of eligible Soldiers and veterans have until Oct. 21, 2010, to apply for Retroactive Stop-Loss Special Pay - $500 for each month Soldiers serve past their end-term-of-service date.
Paratroopers from 82nd Airborne Division transferred partnership responsibilities with Iraqi Security Forces to 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Female Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, created the Chosin Female Engagement Team with hopes of improving the quality of life for Afghan women in Konar Province, Afghanistan.
Kristen Dalton, Miss USA 2009, boosted morale on Fort Drum by visiting with Soldiers and Family Members on Thanksgiving Day.
Leaders of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade uncased their unit colors after a yearlong deployment to Iraq. The ceremony included a change of command, from Col. Erik C. Peterson to Col. Pedro G. Almeida.
Jeff Hewitt, chief of Single Soldier Housing, was named the Army's Outstanding Mid-Level Housing Manager for 2009.
The Army announced the Enlisted Involuntary Early Separation Program, which asks Soldiers scheduled to leave active duty during the first six months of a deployment that begins on or after Jan. 1 to re-enlist, extend or face an involuntary separation up to three months early. Soldiers receive up to $500 a month for each month they serve past their end-term-of-service date.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team received orders to deploy to Afghanistan in 2010 as part of President Obama's announcement to send 30,000 more U.S. troops in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Fort Drum law enforcement officials announced a two-day weapons amnesty, allowing residents on post to register their firearms, or surrender unregistered firearms, without facing penalties.
Col. Mark E. Drake handed over command of 10th Sustainment Brigade to Col. Kurt J. Ryan.
Fort Drum's Medical Department Activity Laboratory staff earned the College of American Pathologists accreditation.
Col. Jeffery L. Bannister, deputy commander - operations, became a brigadier general.
The first main body of Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team returned home after their yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.