Editorial — Restoring public funding for the FDRLO | Editorials

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Areas of New York that host military posts regularly use organizations to coordinate activities between the military and representatives of communities affected by the bases.

The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization formed several years after the local post was selected for the 10th Mountain Division when it was reactivated in the mid-1980s. Also known as the Advocate Drum, the group works to improve communication between members of the post and leaders in upstate New York.

The North Country is one of six areas in New York with such organizations. About 20 years ago, the state legislature provided funding to these groups through the Military Base Retention program. The state has approved a total of $2-3 million for the six regions; The FDRLO generally received between $200,000 and $300,000 per year.

But the last time funds for military base retention were appropriated from the state budget was in 2018. Representatives of these six organizations began lobbying lawmakers to renew their commitment. towards this program.

“In a letter to Governor Kathleen C. Hochul and other state leaders, Attorney Thomas H. Carman Chairman of the Board and leaders of five other New York Defense Communities wrote that the funds ‘have been noticeably absent’ from the state budget,” according to a March 17 article by the Watertown Daily Times. “The letters were sent to the Governor, Speaker of the Assembly Carl E. Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea A. Stewart-Cousins ​​Several state senators received copies of the letters.The letters follow other lobbying efforts by the group.

“In the past, the funds were used to build the capacity of military posts as major contributors to economic and employment opportunities. The funds also helped prevent military installations from being deemed unnecessary by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, known as BRAC,” the article reports. “The letters were signed by officials representing Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station; Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse; Stratton Air National Guard Base near Schenectady, a group that works on behalf of military units in the capital area; Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Board; and the Hudson Valley. The funds were important to New York’s economy, Mr. Carman said. State defense spending in 2020 reached $12.8 billion. Fort Drum generated $1.2 billion for the northern economy.

“In 1990, the FDRLO Board of Directors established eight goals to guide its work: Develop better understanding between the military and civilian communities in the Fort Drum area; ensuring the full participation of military and community leaders in resolving issues of common concern; ensuring the continuity of community relations despite frequent changes in military and community leadership; establish a communication network that will help military and community leaders fulfill their mutual responsibilities; develop cooperation agreements that make maximum use of the human, financial and physical resources of the military and civilian communities; promote the continued growth and prosperity of the Fort Drum area; establish a long-term vision of cooperation and an action program between the military and civilian components of the community; celebrate our mutual successes and achievements.

We urge Heads of State to restore this funding for the FDRLO and the other five regional groups. In placing the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, the U.S. Army wanted to integrate military personnel into local communities as much as possible – and it succeeded. But this work needs continued support, and funds for the military base retention program must be restored to pursue this goal.

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