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Lawmakers move to protect Carson

April 13, 2018 Updated: April 13, 2018 at 8:10 am
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Fort Carson's newest gate opened for use Wednesday, November 14, 2012. The gate is at the south I-25 exit to Fountain at I-25 exit 128. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Colorado's congressional delegation and Gov. John Hickenlooper have sent a letter urging the Army to keep Fort Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat Team in town after it trades its infantry marching boots for armored vehicles.

And Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn isn't stopping there. He wants the Army to also send an 800-soldier security force assistance brigade to Colorado Springs.

"I would love to see us expand," he said.

The Army announced late last month that it would re-equip Fort Carson's 2nd Brigade Combat Team with tanks and Bradley armored fighting vehicles. But in the shift, the Army is studying whether the brigade should be moved, with posts in Georgia, Kansas and Texas in play for the brigade.

Fort Carson remains all but certain to keep the 4,000-soldier unit, because moving it elsewhere could cost nearly $200 million. That's because the Colorado Springs post already has the infrastructure an armored brigade would need.

But it doesn't hurt to have the state's full political might on Fort Carson's side, said Rich Burchfield, who heads defense programs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Burchfield said the lawmakers are adding an assurance to the Pentagon that moves to expand the post will have political backing and federal cash.

He also said keeping the brigade in town would be a boost for the troops involved. Colorado Springs remains the most-requested destination for soldiers.

"You're looking at 4,400 soldiers and 6,000 family members who are already part of the community," Burchfield said. "We have to keep our neighbors here in town."

While keeping 2nd Brigade here is a top priority, Lamborn wants more.

The Army examining options to house a new security force assistance brigade and the congressman wants to woo it to the Rockies.

Assistance brigades are a new kind of Army formation aimed at training allied troops and helping them in battle. Born out of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the assistance units would extend America's reach in troubled regions while keeping deployed troop numbers low.

Lamborn said Fort Carson has a leg up in landing the unit thanks to the 10th Special Forces Group that's already stationed here.

The 10th Group's Green Berets are already expert at training foreign troops and Lamborn said having that experience handy would allow the new assistance brigade to "hit the ground running with a minimal length of time between activation and full operational capability."

Lamborn also touted the popularity of Colorado Springs with troops in his pitch.

"Finally, I would point out the fact Colorado Springs sits in the congressional district with the largest number of veterans of any congressional district in the U.S.," he wrote.

A final decision on the fate of 2nd Brigade is weeks away and any decision on an assistance brigade could take months.

But for now, the Army's top brass knows that Colorado's leaders love Fort Carson.

"Community support in our state for Fort Carson missions, personnel and families is unmatched," the lawmakers said.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

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