Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Colorado Ranchers Continue to Resist Army's Pressure

Posted from Las Animas, Colorado

Here we go again. The Army promises to use 'time-out', and 'work with the communities in 'working out a solution'. Working for 'win-win' opportunities...all proper buzz-words to put the coalition to sleep. If anyone believes the Army is holding off on plans to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, then watch and listen to Lt Col Jim Rice's take on the expansion plan . But of course, it all depends on what you mean by 'working with the communities'.

Back in August this was the situation, and the lines are fairly well drawn: the Army wants the land, the ranchers don't want to give it up. There are some redundancies in the following video, but it's the best one I can find, as it lays out both sides of the problem.

Assuredly, the Army intends to work to break down resistance to the expansion, and has a $500,000-a-year contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, an international consulting firm, to help persuade the public, and Southern Colorado ranchers in particular, that the Army needs to nearly triple the size of the 238,000-acre training area northeast of Trinidad. Any other interpretation is simply misleading. They mean to get the land, and Lt Col Rice is on a mission to get 'er done.

Reps. Marilyn Musgrave and John Salazar have worked hard, at some political risk, to stop the Army from spending money on the expansion
. And though I am suspicious of their motives, the one-year suspension at least focuses attention on the problem.

The Army will only use a 'cooling-off period' to obfuscate on their progress. And to maybe sing another verse or two of the "Stars and Stripes Forever". Sec of the Army, Pete Geren, will "address concerns" within the communities affected by the takeover. Ahem, that's shorthand for "deflect concerns" - the Army will use this time-out period to build pressure against any opposition to the expansion.

And the ranchers ain't buying it...Colorado ranchers resist Army's plans

- the latest U.S. Army news release:

Army Commits to Working with Piñon Canyon Communities

Dec 07, 2007

Secretary of the Army Pete Geren today reaffirmed the Army's commitment to working with southeastern Colorado communities to identify and address concerns about the Army's proposed purchase of land from private landowners adjacent to Fort Carson's Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site.

"We will use the 'time-out' period requested by Colorado's Congressional delegation to revisit the issues, listen to people in the local communities for additional ideas, and work constructively with them on how we can meet the Army's training needs as well as the needs of neighboring landowners, residents and local communities," stated Geren, who is responsible for all matters related to the Army.

After discussions with Sen. Ken Salazar, Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. John Salazar, the Army agreed to a "cooling off" period before proceeding with the planned purchase of land to enhance Fort Carson's key training area, which is located 150 miles southeast of Colorado Springs. Over the coming weeks and months, the Army will reach out to stakeholders, discuss issues of mutual concern, answer questions, and assess where 'win-win' opportunities might be sought.

The Army is seeking to enhance its training capabilities at Fort Carson by purchasing up to 418,000 acres of land adjacent to the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. The reason for the planned purchases is to ensure troop readiness by having the proper space for training required by modern warfare. The current 235,896 acre training area is used for large-scale mechanized combat maneuvers and live-fire exercises in support of Army Soldiers from Fort Carson and other installations as well as National Guard and Army Reserve units from all service branches of the military.

"The expansion is vital to ensure that America's young men and women receive the very best training possible before we put them in harm's way," Geren said "It is not only about our country's defense needs today; but it is critical for enhancing the survivability of our Soldiers and protecting our nation in the missions of tomorrow."


The ranching and farming communities are digging in for the long haul. I salute them.