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Gazette Premium Content Army Secretary praises Fort Carson for training ground, community

JAKOB RODGERS Updated: May 2, 2012 at 12:00 am

The secretary of the Army offered a glowing assessment of Fort Carson on Wednesday, touting the base’s training grounds and surrounding community as everything the Army wants as it moves into the future.

Whether that spares the base from wide-ranging defense cuts remains to be seen.

“There will be changes, but to what extent and where, that’s still a work in progress,” said Army Secretary John McHugh.

McHugh’s remarks came during a ceremony with Colorado Springs leaders at City Hall to sign a largely symbolic agreement pledging cooperation between Fort Carson and the city in the years ahead.

His next task: Decide where Fort Carson figures into the Defense Department’s plans to slash hundreds of billions of dollars from its budget over the next decade.

The Army plans to cut 80,000 soldiers from its ranks as part of a wide-ranging plan by the Defense Department to cut $487 billion from its budget over the next decade.

That figure could double should Congress fail to find budget savings by the end of the year,

Army officials have so far hedged on whether those cuts will reach Fort Carson.

The Pentagon announced a plan in February to reduce the number of combat brigades from 45 to as few as 32. In the process, the size of the remaining combat brigades would swell to pre-war levels — when each brigade boasted about 1,000 more soldiers.

The arrival of about 2,700 troops with a new helicopter brigade at Fort Carson should ease any cuts levied by the Defense Department — though McHugh sounded a positive note about the base Wednesday.

“For bases like Fort Carson, where you have such great training ranges, where you have this great community spirit, and obviously a place where the Army’s made an investment in building a new combat aviation brigade, this is a place we like very much,” McHugh said.

“We’ll have to share some pain, but all of us in the Army leadership are dedicated to making sure our families and their soldiers get what they need.”

Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @jakobrodgers

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