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April 25, 2003

FDRLO Announces Additions to BRAC Team

Drum 2020, the FDRLO’s task force to retain and expand Fort Drum during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round (BRAC) has formed its leadership team. Drum 2020 co-chairs Keith Caughlin and Elizabeth Fipps announced that three North Country residents have stepped forward to assist with the North Country community’s response to BRAC ‘05.

Richard Babbitt, Carthage, retired U.S. Army Colonel and Fort Drum garrison commander from June 1996 to June 1998, will chair the Information Committee. Rich is treasurer and chief financial officer for the Johnson Newspaper Corporation. 

Ruth Ellen Blodgett, Cape Vincent, Vice President of Marketing and Community Development at Samaritan Medical Center, will chair the Communications Committee.

Scott Gray, Watertown, Jefferson County Legislator for District - 13 and owner of Gray’s Flower Shops, Watertown, Carthage, and Clayton, has agreed to chair the Membership and Finance Committee.

“We are pleased to have Rich, Ruth Ellen and Scott join our team,” explained Keith Caughlin.

“They bring leadership, imagination and their broad experience to direct our local efforts to not only keep Fort Drum, but to expand its use by the Army, other services and even federal agencies.” 

The Drum 2020 leadership team will be working on filling the ranks of the working committees. 

“Get in touch with one of us or to let us know you are interested in serving,” Mr. Caughlin urged. 

“A new element of BRAC ‘05 is the transformation of the nation’s military,” added Beth Fipps. The BRAC legislation places great weight on the military value of an installation. “We are confident these 107,000 acres in northern New York meet that criteria, but the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army will also be transforming the military as they go forward. We know Fort Drum will fit into that future force.”

“Congressman McHugh and Senators Clinton and Schumer have worked to maintain excellent facilities at Fort Drum,” observed Dr. John Deans, the chairman of the FDRLO. “These investments in facilities for soldiers, families and training will keep us competitive.”

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Lawson Magruder III, former 10th Mountain Division Commander noted, 

"Ft Drum’s ultra-modern firing ranges, diverse training lands, and challenging weather have been instrumental in toughening up and preparing the 10th’s soldiers to defeat the stiffest enemy and win in any environment with minimum casualties. "

An unabashed booster of the installation and the soldiers who train there, Magruder pointed out,

"The value of Ft Drum to our Nation has been demonstrated through the tremendous performance of 10th Mountain soldiers who have trained at Fort Drum. Our soldiers have always accomplished the most dangerous and complex missions because: they trained under the most demanding and realistic conditions at Ft Drum; were led by the most confident, competent leaders in our Army; and were supported by the most patriotic civilian community in our country. The success of our units in Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans, Afghanistan and over the past month in Iraq, all started with training at Ft Drum. "

For more information on BRAC 2005 and listing of specific BRAC deadlines, visit the FDRLO’s website: For more information contact Keith Caughlin at 788-6700 or Beth Fipps at 785-3456.


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