Sequestration, troop numbers top discussion at Fort Carson town hall

Filed under: Aerospace/Defense,Daily News |

Sequestration, troop levels and Amendment 64 were top topics of discussion at a town hall meeting Thursday sponsored by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and Fort Carson.

The Mountain Post’s leaders said 3,000 civilian employees would face a 20 percent cut when furloughs go into effect July 8. And, they said they faced some cuts in maintenance and operations budgets.

“We got some of that back,” said Fort Carson Commander Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera. “For instance, we had lost some money to fix maneuver damage at Pinon Canyon, and we petitioned the Department of the Army to get that back. They gave it to us, so we can meet our obligations there.”

LaCamera said a decision was expected soon about troop levels at Fort Carson. Under two different scenarios outlined by the Department of Defense, Fort Carson could gain 8,000 soldiers or lose 3,000 as the Army restructures to pre-war active duty levels. Fort Carson is one of a handful of posts that could see increases as battalions are moved around.

“I thought we’d know something by the end of May,” he said. “Now it looks like it’s going to be June. Right now, that decision sits with the Secretary of the Army.”

LaCamera said he appreciated the favorable letters and comments from the local community, a packet he delivered to aid the military in its decision.

And Amendment 64 came up – Terrance McWilliams, director of military and veterans affairs for El Pomar Foundation, encouraged the audience to contact Colorado Springs City Council members and ask them to ban retail sales of marijuana inside the city limits. Recreational use will still be allowed under the constitutional amendment.

“It interferes with Army discipline,” McWilliams said. “They won’t tell you this, the active duty guys, but I will. It’s a concern, especially with BRAC (base realignment and closures) coming up.”

But the bulk of the two-hour presentation dealt with partnerships – not politics.

The group said that the community partnership with the military has never been stronger. It includes the creation of the Peak Military Care Network, a collaboration between the region’s service providers to support the military community; a data analysis for Fort Carson that predicts growth at the post, allowing the community to evaluate housing and education needs; and the region’s first sustainability plan that includes Fort Carson’s pioneering net-zero program.

The initiatives will be handed over to nonprofit and other partners, but the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments will still serve as the source of data on several issues.