I am waiting for the proverbial "Just kidding" from one or more of our community's leaders.
The article on the front of last Wednesday's Gazette - "Springs Leaders Rally For Carson" (Aug. 20) - has to be a spoof. There is no way anyone with business acumen would believe that a postcard and letter-writing campaign could have any serious impact on a Department of Defense study to determine where it will enact big cuts to the Army. The fact that we have elected officials and community leaders who might believe this says everything about why our community is in such dire straits.
Senior military reporter Tom Roeder described a campaign to get thousands of "love letters" to the Pentagon, telling military officials how much the community cares about Fort Carson's presence in the region. That's because the post faces the loss of up to 16,000 soldiers under a Pentagon doomsday plan to cut $900 billion from the Department of Defense over a decade. It's a serious concern. Postcards seeking signatures all over town begin with: "I am proud that the Pikes Peak region is home to the brave men and women stationed at Fort Carson." The Colorado Regional Business Alliance started the campaign about a week before the Pentagon's Aug. 25 deadline for comments.
If this were Denver; Austin, Texas; Omaha, Neb.; Huntsville, Ala.; or just about anywhere else, this threat to our community would have been handled in a much different manner. A yearslong, well-thought-out campaign involving video, advertisements, personal visits, lobbying and more would have been executed to save our bases and personnel. It would have been strategically implemented. That's how it's done in other communities that don't take the military for granted and are serious about hosting it far into the future.
Consider the consequences of losing tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians who work for the military. It would mean thousands of jobs leaving our community. It would have a devastating effect on other jobs, contractors, housing values, assorted third parties and the overall economy. Given the magnitude of this threat to our state and regional economies, someone needs to be held accountable for our too-little-too-late approach to defending this community.
The article says the Army will be looking at "key military factors including training space, facilities and terrain." One would have to assume we have spent an inordinate amount of effort and time explaining in detail our community, our educational system, the high ethics and values our region offers, the strong faith base we have and, most importantly, our willingness to work through any and all issues to maintain this area as the perfect military host.
If much of the above has not been done, consequences for decision makers at every level are required. If these officials and elected representatives were in the medical arena, we would probably be forming a class-action lawsuit based on malpractice.
After my first read of the article, I hoped Roeder was just pulling our leg. I was hoping our community really does have a well-thought-out plan that had been strategically executed for years.
Unfortunately, I just hung up the phone with Roeder. He confirmed the facts in the article. It's as bad as it sounds.
Thank God for performance reviews, term limits and elections!
Robert Blaha, founder of Human Capital Associates, is vice chairman of the board of directors of Integrity Bank & Trust in Colorado Springs.