Hickenlooper tours Fort Carson, promises greater military cooperation

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Gov. John Hickenlooper toured Fort Carson this morning and promised greater cooperation with military leaders.

“Fort Carson has a $4 billion economic impact – and that reaches beyond El Paso County,” he said. “It’s the link between Colorado Sprigs and Pueblo, and I encouraged the military leaders to make use of that link to create greater economic opportunities for both cities.”

Standing at the Global War on Terrorism memorial at the front gates of Fort Carson, Hickenlooper said that he didn’t know very much about the military – but was willing to learn.

“I know I have a steep learning curve,” he said. “But I also am committed to learning, and to improving the relationship with the military statewide.”

Fort Carson is on the short list to get a combat aviation brigade, and Hickenlooper promised to lobby on behalf of the Mountain Post. The new brigade will bring 4,100 soldiers to Colorado Springs, and also bring construction jobs to Fort Carson.

“I am going to get up to speed about why the brigade should be here,” he said. “Then I’m going to make sure my voice gets to the right ears.”

Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site expansion is no longer on the table, he said. And it was time the military mend those fences in southern Colorado, where there was a grassroots movement to halt expansion of the Army’s main training area in southern Colorado.

“In the restaurant business, when you spill soup on a customer, you clean it up – then you find ways not to spill anymore soup,” he said. “We need to find ways to use the current training site to its fullest potential, and to make sure that Fort Carson has a relationship there. People in Colorado Springs appreciate Fort Carson; they don’t have that relationship in southern Colorado. We’ll have to build it.”

When asked where he was going to sit during the annual Army-Air Force football game at the Air Force Academy, the governor waffled.

“I’ll be switching between the two sides on the sideline,” he said.