By the year 2020, the US Army plans to cut back thousands of active-duty members to meet budget constraints. YNN's Carmella Mataloni tells us how officials in the North Country are looking at all angles of the "forced reduction plan" to make sure those cuts don't happen on Fort Drum.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- It's a plan that would impact 22 installations, one of them being Fort Drum.
"The Army has been studying a forced reduction. We've known it's been coming for a long time. They are going to cut the operational army by seventy two thousand soldiers," said Carl McLaughlin, FDRLO Executive Director.
But this plan comes with options. In a report by the US Army, the first option involving Fort Drum would be a loss of 8,000 soldiers and civilian jobs, which is something Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization director Carl McLaughlin says he doesn't want to see happen.
"We don't want to lose anyone. If we do, it's going to have significant economic impact on us. Our goal is to not lose, what we'd like to do is gain," said McLaughlin.
That gain would come from option two, which would cut brigades at other posts and add them to eleven other installations, including Fort Drum. This would create 3,000 soldier and civilian jobs locally.
"It would be great for all other industries in the area and business would be booming," said Lynn Pietroski, Greater Watertown North Country Chamber of Commerce President.
Although these plans are in the very early stages, it's not only concerning officials but also small business.
"I can speak for anyone who owns a barber shop that it will be devastating. It would hurt business a lot," said Song Ortega, Owner of Song's Barber Shop
"A lot of the growth that we have seen here in recent years is because we have that population, that demographic and that critical mass population is due largely to Fort Drum," said David Zembiec, Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency Deputy Director
But there is also a third option, which means nothing would happen and everything on Fort Drum will remain the same. Officials say they are behind the opportunity of growth and have until February 19th to give the Army feedback.