Prior to the Pentagon’s official announcement of U.S. Army troop cuts at installations around the country, local and state officials have confirmed that Fort Carson in Colorado Springs will lose 365 of the 23,349 soldiers currently stationed at the mountain post.
“Although no one wants any reductions at Fort Carson, just 365 cut out of 23,349 soldiers shows that we are viewed favorably by the DOD and the Army,” Lamborn said Thursday morning. “Fort Carson is still one of the most funded, most staffed, and most active installations in the entire Army, operating on the very cutting edge of the future of warfare. The influx of money, missions and soldiers to the Mountain Post over the last few years has had a significant impact and has reinforced the uniqueness of the training settings that we can provide to our brave men and women in uniform.”
Andy Merritt, chief defense industry officer for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, estimated the economic impact on Colorado Springs to be around $25 million — opposed to the potential $1 billion hit the region faced as a worst-case scenario.
“This is such a huge relief,” he said. “It’s great news.”
Lamborn and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet have been in staunch support of Fort Carson and its troops in Colorado Springs since the Department of Defense announced last year its plans to reduce Army forces by up to 70,000, and Fort Carson by up to 16,000, by 2020. That worst case scenario would have translated to a loss of around 40,000 residents and $1 billion from the Pikes Peak region, according to some estimates.
The reductions — now totaling 40,000 troops and 17,000 civilians nationally — were originally announced last June as part of the Pentagon’s Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment for 2020 Army realignment, which was a consequence of federal sequestration and a mission to drop active-duty numbers to 450,000 soldiers.
As of the announcement last June, Fort Carson stood to lose nearly two-thirds of its 2011 soldier and Army civilian population of 25,702. Instead, the Mountain Post will see a drop in its staff of less than 2 percent, Lamborn said.
“We don’t want any cuts to Fort Carson,” said Bennet in a statement Thursday morning. “However, in light of the scope of today’s announcement, it is clear the Pentagon recognizes the strategic importance of Fort Carson and its missions, the critical role troops stationed there serve in protecting our national security, and all that Colorado offers our service members and their families.”
Merritt said the 365 personnel being cut from Fort Carson are all active duty and that there may be additional civilian support staff cut as a consequence.
The Pikes Peak region is among 30 communities whose military installations were targeted for possible cuts as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act, which is known for initiating sequestration.
The public comment phase for potential cuts at Fort Carson closed in January and was followed by a “listening session” held by Pentagon officials at Centennial Hall Feb. 3. During the meeting, dozens of city and state officials, as well as concerned business owners and citizens, voiced their appreciation and support for the post. “Keep Carson Strong” was their motto.